Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

Pick your elderflowers on a dry day (the pollen adds to the flavour), and leave some flowers to form fruit for wildlife later as well as for elderberry recipes. Avoid any flowers turning brown, and pick those with the nicest scent. The cordial can be diluted as a drink, used in cocktails, as a drizzle, or as an ingredient for desserts, sorbets and ice lollies. The citric acid is optional if you're using your cordial straight away - it extends the life of the syrup by helping to stop fermentation, and also adds tartness to the flavour. You can get it from some chemists, home brew shops or online (choose a reputable company).

Makes between 1.5 and 2 litres of cordial


  • 20-30 elderflowers
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 lime or 1 orange (or another lemon if you prefer)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons food grade citric acid (optional)
  • Method

    If your citrus fruits are waxed, wash them in hot water and washing-up liquid, scrub with a brush or the scouring side of a washing-up sponge, rinse well and dry. Zest the citrus fruits and keep them aside.

    Shake the elderflowers gently to remove any insects, then pick off any remaining bugs. Use a fork or your fingers to remove the florets (the tiny flowers) from their stems and into a large bowl. Add the citrus zest to the flowers.

    Boil the water and pour it over the elderflowers and zest, cover with cling film and leave to infuse overnight. Once cooled, it can be left in the fridge like this for up to two days if necessary.

    Juice the citrus fruit. Strain the elderflower infusion through a sieve, lined with a scalded jelly bag or muslin, into a saucepan and add the strained citrus juice, sugar and citric acid. Bring gradually to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let it boil gently for a couple of minutes, then skim off any foam.

    Pour the cordial while still hot into warm, sterilised glass bottles, using a sterilised funnel, and seal. Alternatively let the cordial cool, then pour into sterilised plastic bottles (or ice cube trays) and freeze. Once opened or thawed, store in the fridge and use within a week, or several weeks if citric acid is used. Dilute at around one part cordial to five parts water – fizzy or still, or try it mixed with sparkling wine.

    If you share my recipe privately for non-profit use, please credit it as a 'Wild Feast recipe' and link to my page: www.wildfeast.co.uk. For public or commercial electronic (e.g. on the web or in e-newsletters) or printed reproduction of my recipes, please obtain my permission first on sarah@wildfeast.co.uk.