June 7th, 2009


Elderflower Cordial

I have been on the elderflower watch for a few weeks and finally this week they were in full bloom. There were a few bushes by the road side with lovely big flowers, however I’m cautious to harvest them as they would be drenched in petrol fumes and covered with pollution.

As we live in a small village there are a few public foot paths near by. Between the heavy rain showers we  ventured out to forage for healthy fresh elderflowers. The season is short and as we all know  theyonly bloom once a year between end of May to the second week of June. As we were picking the elderflowers we were smelling  and nibbling them. We agreed that it smells and tastes like green almonds. My brain started to work over time and I was day dreaming about all the different dishes that I could make. As it smelt of almonds I thought it would make a pretty cool almond milk and elderflower panacotta or it would be a wonderful flavour addition to a gooseberry and elderflower chutney spiked with slithers of almonds.

After all the day dreaming I was pretty pleased that we have managed to harvest our crop for this year, so it was time to head home to make my precious batch of elderflower cordial for this season.

I make a batch each year and it normally lasts pretty well. It’s a saviour when I need to make a special dessert or serve a luscious drink on a hot summers day.

As we were in elderflower heaven we ended up making a few different dishes that will feature later on this month. We made elderflower tempura to garnish a lovely elderflower and English wine jelly, it’s lovely and slightly different.

Matthew Fort writes about his grandmothers elderflower champagne which sounds absolutely fantastic and I shall have a go at making this next year as I have already made cordial for this year.

Hurry and go elderflower foraging soon before it’s too late.


  • 250g elderflowers, cleaned
  • 1.1L  water
  • 900g caster sugar
  • 50g citric acid
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes

Bring the water to the boil, pour the boiling water over the sugar. Stir to dissolve and let it cool completely.

Wash and cut the lemons and limes in quaters and add to the stock syrup.

Pick the elderflowers and remove any dead bits and leaves. Place the elderflowers in a colander and wash under cold running water.

Let the elder flowers drain while the stock syrup cools.

Once the stock syrup is cold add the elderflowers and the citric acid, mix and place the mixture in a deep container in the fridge, place a layer of clingfilm directly on top of the mixture.

Let the cordial infuse for 48 hours, stir a couple of times during this period.

Pass the cordial through a fine sieve and pour into sterilised bottles. Keep refrigerated.

Makes aproxiamtly 2 litres of elderflower cordial

Food Fanatics Tips

If you add the elderflowers to they syrup while it's still boiling hot you will scorch the flowers and it will change the taste of the cordial. I have made this mistake in the past and the end result is not pleasant. Instead of keeping the cordial in bottles you can pour the cordial into ice cube trays and freeze them, this saves space and it will keep slightly longer.

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46 Comments to “Elderflower Cordial”

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  1. Lucy Thomson says:

    How long will the cordial last in the fridge?

  2. Madalene says:

    Hi Alice,
    Your absolutely right you can freeze the cordial in either plastic bottles as you said leave enough room for expansion. Alternatively pour the cordial into ice cube trays and freeze them in cubes, once frozen pop the frozen blocks / pellets into a freezer bag, keep frozen for up to 6 months.

    Happy freeing!

  3. alice wells says:

    Can you freeze the cordial in plastic bottles and keep in the freezer and how long will it last – six months?
    Am sure I read somewhere that you can do this as long as you leave enough room for expansion?

  4. Madalene says:

    Hi June,
    Thank you for your comment on this recipe. Yes you can put the flower in however make sure you plunge the flowers in the boiling syrup to sterilize them. It will prevent the flowers from going mouldy.

    Happy Cooking

  5. June says:


    Can I put fresh Elderflowers in the bottle with the cordial.


  6. I live in France where ingredient’s availability varies! ( usually because of my bad French–or just because I forget!)
    Anyhow, last year I panicked because of the citric acid ( I’m sure I could find it with a bit of effort)— and then thought–what is citric acid? Surely it comes from lemons! So I just added an extra lemon. It was great. There is 1/2 an inch at the bottom of the last bottle–so I’m off to do this year’s supply!
    It’s great with gelatine & red fruits!

  7. Madalene says:

    HI Tim, I have absolutely no idea why campden tablets changes the flavour of Elderflower cordial. I think as it’s a sulphur based product if added in the wrong ratio to water it could have a effect on the taste. I make mine without only add citric acid and then freeze the cordial for use later on.
    Best of Luck, Maddy

  8. Timbo says:

    Hi – can you explain please why adding a campden tablet changes the flavour -I used them in wine making and was not aware of this

  9. Paul says:

    when I make my cordial i strip off the elderflower heads & slice the fruit thinly so when i have strained the cordial i keep the mass of fruit & elderflower and add it 50/50 to my marmalade base when i make it
    Every one loves it so much I have trouble keeping up as the pots just fly off the tables.


  10. jane says:

    In terms of extending the shelf life of elderflower cordial, I know I could add crushed campden tablets at the right dilution, but prefer not to. Adding the flowerheads to the cooled syrup means there’s no heat to kill any microbes on the elderflowers and lemons, so does boiling the cordial at the end (once strained) damage the flavour, because this would sterilise the cordial so I assume vastly extend the shelf life when in sealed bottles?
    Hi Jane,
    you can boil it for four minutes to ensure you kill all unwanted I do not as it effect the flavour. I reccomended to freeze it this keep the flavour and your cordial does not turn.
    Best wishes

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