Homemade Elderflower Cordial
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    Makes about 2 litres elderflower cordial/Serves 20–25
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This is one of my most popular recipes from late April to early June. This recipe is easy to use and is a great success every time. If you like foraged and found foods and ingredients then this is what I would class as a recipe for beginners that you can rely on.

Towards the end of April (depending how warm Spring has been), as I drive to work and back, I am usually on the look out for sources of elderflowers, spotting bridle paths and footpaths that lead into fields with hedgerows containing elderberry shrubs/trees, but it all depends on how warm a spring we’ve had as to when the flowers will be ready for picking.

As well as finding a source of fresh elderflowers, you will need to buy the other ingredients required to make the cordial, citric acid being one of those and one that is not always easy to find. Citric acid used to be readily available from most high street chemists, but it is harder to find nowadays. Buying it online is the easiest solution, but make sure you buy it from reputable companies and only buy food-safe citric acid,

There are a few things you should know: you must make sure you identify the shrub as elderflower and do not pick something that is potentially poisonous, wash the flowers well, only pick elderflowers from shoulder height upwards (avoid dog’s height) and I always choose shrubs way from the road (avoid road pollution).

photo of Photo of ElderflowerPhoto of Elderflower Cordial

Ingredients & Method

  • 1.1 litres cold water
  • 900g caster sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes
  • 250g freshly picked elderflowers
  • 50g citric acid

Pour the water into a large saucepan and bring it to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and pour the boiling water over the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Wash the lemons and limes and cut into quarters, then add them to the hot syrup. Set aside and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile, pick over the elderflowers and remove any dead bits and leaves. Place the elderflowers in a colander and wash under cold running water. Let the elderflowers drain while the syrup cools.photo of Photo of Elderflower

Add the elderflowers and citric acid to the cooled syrup mixture and stir to mix. Place a piece of cling film directly on the surface of the mixture and place in the fridge. Leave the cordial to infuse in the fridge for 48 hours, stirring a couple of times during this period.photo of Photo of Elderflower

Pass the cordial through a fine sieve and pour into sterilised bottles, then seal. Keep refrigerated and use within 6 weeks. To serve, dilute the cordial with either chilled sparkling, still or soda water and serve in tall glasses with plenty of ice. Alternatively, add a dash of cordial to champagne for a refreshing champagne cocktail.

Cook’s Notes

If you add the elderflowers to the syrup while it’s still boiling hot, you will scorch the flowers and it will change the taste and colour 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 in the fridge, you can pour the cordial into ice cube trays and freeze, then simply defrost and dilute as needed. The frozen cubes of cordial will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.