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”

  1. Y says:

    Love the idea of homemade elderflower champagne. One day I’d like the opportunity to pick my own flowers too.

  2. Lou says:

    Lovely! I love elderflower cordial it is so refreshing, and your’s looks so pretty in the bottle too. The idea of of an elderflower champagne sounds gorgeous and definitely worth trying out!

  3. Helen says:

    I’ve been looking for elderflowers but not hard enough! I would imagine they will be covered in pollution as I live in London – everything is covered in pollution including all the vegetables I grow on my balcony as I live on a main road!

    Hi Helen,
    If you rinse your vegetables in a mild solution of Milton and water your balcony vegies should be clean enough to enjoy.

    Venture out of London for the Elderflowers, I think that they are coming near to their end now, especially after the rain. Good luck in finding them.


  4. Suzie says:

    I love elderflower cordial, mixed with sparkling water it’s delicious with gin!

    This weekend is our annual elderflower weekend – fritters, cordial, jelly and something not yet decided with gooseberries. Then the rest have got to be left for the delicious berries!!

  5. Earlier this year I saw trees that I thought were elderflower but wasn’t sure. I’m definitely going to check them out next year – this sounds like fun and delicious.

  6. missbliss says:

    Just waiting for my first batch of elderflower cordial to brew. It was a nightmare finding the citric acid though!

    Hi Missbliss,

    Hope your elderflower cordial turns out delicious. You should be able to find citric acid from most chemist or via the internet.
    Hope you have better luck next season.

    Happy Cooking

  7. caryl says:

    So glad to find your tip about freezing the elderflower cordial, how long should it last in the freezer?

    Hi Caryl, my cordial lasted one year in the freezer. I used it sparingly so that I had just enough until the new seasons batch was ready. There is nothing that can turn or go funny or do any harm.
    Hope it helps,

  8. sue says:

    although we sterlised everything our cordial has mould after only 2 weeks any suggestions

    Dear Sue,

    I was worried that this might happen, sometimes the sugar contain bacteria. I wrote on my recipe to pour hot boiling water over the sugar but if you to bring the water and dissolved sugar to the boil and rapid boil for two minutes, then cool it down before you add your the rest of the ingredients and the flowers you should have a better result. I freeze my cordial to avoid the risk of fermentation, perhaps that is what you should do next time.

    Hope you have better success next year.

  9. Ang says:

    I’ve just made my elderflower champagne – tried it last year for the first time and it was fab! Really simple to do. As I live in Scotland our flowerheads are just about perfect at the moment.

  10. MarKRay says:

    If elderflower cordial has mould on top is it still safe to drink? it tastes and smells OK!

    Would re-boiling kill off anything nasty?




    If you carefully skim the mould off, pass the cordial slowly through a fine sieve, bring it back to the boil BUT make sure there is no mould left, boil for 5 minutes.

    Pour back into a clean sterilized container and keep refrigerated, then it should be fine.

  11. 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

  12. 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.


  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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!

  16. June says:


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


  17. 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

  18. 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?

  19. 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!

  20. Lucy Thomson says:

    How long will the cordial last in the fridge?

  21. Madalene says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Make sure you sterilize the bottles or containers that you keep the cordial in, it should last for up to three months. I had some home made elderflower cordial in my fridge for up to a year and it was perfectly fine.

    Happy Cooking


  22. Karen Standish says:

    there was a comment left by paul to say he uses the left over fruit and elderflowers to make marmalade what did he mean by 50/50?

    Just made my first batch hoping it tastes as yummy as it sounds Ta

  23. Madalene says:

    Hi Karen,

    It means that he uses 50% of the flower and fruits left over from making the Elderflower Cordial and the other 50% is jam sugar containing pectin.

    Happy Cooking

  24. Janet Cucksey says:

    I just found this on wikipaedia. ‘Elderberry flowers should never be eaten raw as, like the trees’ berries, they contain a mildly poisonous alkaloid, which is destroyed during the cooking process.’ Do you think you should be nibbling them while picking them? Don’t want to lose you to elderflower poisoning!

  25. Madalene says:

    Hi Anne Marie,

    Yes it will be lovely and give your cordial a slightly pink tint.

    Happy Cooking,

  26. AnneMarie Sadleir says:

    I have a few strawberries that need using up, would they be OK to add to the Elderflower cordial mix that I have just started amking?

  27. Lynn says:

    The recipe says 250g of elderflower heads could you give me an idea of approx. how many this is? (20, 30 , a carrier bagful etc)

    Many Thanks

  28. Madalene says:

    Dear Lynn,

    It’s hard to tell as the flowers are mostly all different sizes, that is why I put the weight. I would say about 20 flower heads should be sufficient.

    Happy Cooking,


  29. Ann W says:

    Regarding marmalade, if you found that putting the elderflowers into hot syrup changed the taste (not for the better) how can you make marmalade from them?
    I have used the fruit only and added the juice of a couple of lemons and sugar and there was no need for added pectin. It turned out great but unclear on using the flowers though?

  30. Madalene says:

    Dear Ann,

    You can use the cooked flowers from the cordial making stage to make that into a marmalade alongside the pieces of fruit also used in the cordial making.
    I would use only half of the amount of the flowers and more of the fruits.
    Happy Cooking,


  31. Ann W says:

    Thank you so much Madalene, I am about to have a go…watch this space ;-)

  32. Madalene says:

    Dear Jeanette,

    You should use them as soon as you picked them. The flowers goes off and get a strange taste, use them fresh for the best results.

    Happy Cooking,

  33. jeanette says:

    how long can i keep picked elderflwers before use, is it best to keep them cool in dark?

  34. Diana says:

    This is a delicious recipe of elderflower cordial.
    Only one problem though: it only made about 1.4l of cordial.

  35. Mamma Ball says:

    This was wonderful- had some trouble getting citric acid initially but the cordial was divine. Made some into jelly which was delicious- so fragrant and have frozen the rest into ice cube trays- brilliant to just pop in a glass and top up with sparkling water.

  36. Shop Flowers says:

    This is a great idea, thank you so much. I wonder if this is possible to do with other edible flowers.

  37. Edward says:

    Campden tablets – available online or in brewers shops – will make your cordial last all year without refridgeration.

    We use some oranges (satsumas are very good) in our mix – I think it gives it a better colour!


  38. Abigail Reeves says:

    I’m thinking to have a go with meadowsweet blossoms, any suggestions as to whether I can use the same recipe / method as with elderflowers?

  39. Jo W says:

    Spent a long time trawling the internet for the cordial that best suited my needs… less sugar in this one! Is it ok to leave it in the fridge for longer than 48 hours before sieving and bottling? Was going to make it today and bottle it on Wednesday when I’ve got some bottles!

  40. Dianne says:

    Hi – I wish I had found your recipe before I made mine, like a previous comment – less sugar! So it is saved for next year.
    I always put my cordial in clean, sterilised bottles but the top of the cordial is showing signs of going mouldy. I am aware of the hazards of botulism but before I pour it down the sink is there any possibility of rescuing it?
    Many thanks

  41. Madalene says:

    Dear Dianne,
    Sadly there is nothing you can do, once it;s mouldy throw it. The flaovur will also be affected. Next time freeze it.

    Best wishes

  42. Rose says:

    Love elderberryblossom with sprudle/sparkling water.
    Tasted it the first time in the hospital in Germany and that
    was the only place I could find it (in the hospital).
    Glad to have come across this receipe. The blossoms are
    finished for this year, but next year I will be ready.

  43. Helena says:

    Hi there.
    Just to say that I freeze the lemons /limes and use in Gin And Tonic. It adds a lovely evening extra flavour.

  44. Carol says:

    Loved Elderflower Presse during my recent trip to UK to visit relatives and friends but can’t get Elderflowers in Australia ! Any suggestions anyone please.

  45. Chris says:

    Great recipe and site – I was just looking at my plant this morning wondering if I should try making cordial. Carol, I live in Australia too; you can buy the plant here and it grows quite fast. I’ve already had to hack mine back to ground level and it came bounding back. So pretty, worth having.

  46. Christine Charman says:

    I have been making this for years and the only way of keeping it is by freezing, it doesn’t affect the flavour and is lovely at Christmas as part of a champagne cocktail.

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