Elderflower cordial

Elderflower cordial

Submitted by Margaret from Crackpot

Late May/early June is a good time to collect elderflower from the elder trees around Swaledale. The flowers can be used for a variety of culinary uses such as elderflower fritters, jams, jellies and “elderflower champagne”.  This recipe is for elderflower cordial which can be diluted with still or sparkling water to make a refreshing long drink or used in its concentrated form to flavour cakes, ice cream and gooseberry crumbles. The best time to pick elderflower is on a warm dry day when the heads still look creamy and have a few closed buds.  Some elderflower flowers are said to have a less desirable aroma so smell them before picking.  

A search on the internet will reveal different recipes, some using citric acid available from a chemist.  The advantage of citric acid, especially when used with a Camden tablet, is that it makes a longer lasting cordial which will keep up to a year.  I prefer to make mine using lemons which will keep for three to four weeks in the fridge and freeze the rest of the  cordial until required. I haven’t tried it myself, but according to Mary Berry, you can make cordial all year by freezing the heads and then adding them straight from the freezer into hot syrup. 


  • 25 heads of elderflower
  • Zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1.5 litres water


  • Shake the flowers to remove any creepy crawlies 
  • Put into a large bowl with the lemon zest, and pour over 1.5 litres of boiling water
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave to infuse over night
  • The following day, strain the liquid through a scalded jam bag or some clean muslin
  • Add the strained liquid to a large saucepan along with the lemon juice and sugar
  • Bring the liquid gently to a simmer and cook for a few minutes
  • Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles ( rinsed and put into a preheated oven at 160 ◦C for 10 minutes)
  • Makes about 2 litres

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