Recipes

Add a recipe
Elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial
added by River Cottage Preserves Handbook

The sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers of the elder tree appear in abundance in hedgerows, scrub, woodlands and wasteland at the beginning of summer. The fresh flowers make a terrific aromatic cordial. They are best gathered just as the many tiny buds are beginning to open, and some are still closed. Gather on a warm, dry day (never when wet), checking the perfume is fresh and pleasing. Trees do differ and you will soon get to know the good ones. Remember to leave some flowers for elderberry picking later in the year. This recipe is based on one from the River Cottage archives: it’s sharp, lemony and makes a truly thirst-quenching drink. You can, however, adjust it to your liking by adding more or less sugar. The cordial will keep for several weeks as is. If you want to keep it for longer, either add some citric acid and sterilise the bottles after filling, or pour into plastic bottles and store in the freezer. Serve the cordial, diluted with ice-cold sparkling or still water, as a summer refresher – or mix with sparkling wine or Champagne for a classy do. Add a splash or two, undiluted, to fruit salads or anything with gooseberries – or dilute one part cordial to two parts water for fragrant ice lollies.

Rate this recipe:
Prep time
  • 1 hour
Cook Time
  • 10 mins
Servings
  • 2 litres
Ingredients
  • About 25 elderflower heads
  • Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp citric acid (optional)
, ,
Directions

Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.

Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using).

Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.

Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.

20 replies
Replied on

Our elderflowers are just in full bloom now. I have found in the past that:- A, you need full bloom, perfect heads with the sunshine on them. B, you need to smell the heads and only pick ones that smell lovely, (some varieties smell of tom cat!). C, you need to fork off all the flowers, just like you do when making elderberry wine, (stalks are bitter).
I followed this recipe to the letter, and it is fine if you bear in mind the above. I think you need lots of sugar to act as a preservative, so that it will keep better. Obviously, you can dilute it down as much as you want, so it could not be "too" sweet, as may have been suggested in other posts. The lemon and orange zest give it a rich yellow colour and fresh taste. Perfect.

Replied on

Enayena, dilute it down and add some yeast. It might work as the cordial recipe is very similar to that of elderflower champagne. Worth a try.

Replied on

Made this yesterday. Much too sweet - tasted like sugar water. Disappointing as I followed it to the letter. Wonder how I can rescue it!!

Replied on

Hi. I just made my first batch using this recipe. I followed advise on here and didn't put any greenery in and used only 250g of sugar. Looks fantastic and tastes divine :) Thankyou all:D

Replied on

I tried this and the colour was very brown and a bit cloudy........and I only used 500gms of sugar and it was enough. Didn't use the citric acid.......is it just a preservative?

Replied on
Replied on

We have been doing a very similar recipe to this for years. We make enough for a years supply by freezing in freezer bags and lying flat, which takes a lot less space than bottles. Just set it in a tray. Easy.

Replied on

I've been making a similar recipe for many years, so it is well tried and tested. The grandchildren eagerly await its production each year and I freeze some for Christmas. I do use less sugar and do not include the fat green stalks, just the thin ones next to the flower heads.
Luckily my garden is full of elderflowers. MAKE SOME NOW!

Replied on

We have just followed the recipe here and DO NOT follow it...the boiling water burnt our elderflower heads and ruined the batch...we made some last year but forgot the method and this is most certainly not the one to go for...we now have to go and collect another load and this this time we will heat the water slowly and not bring to a complete boil...not impressed!

Replied on

Can you make this with flowers from the elder known as black beauty? I notice my plant produces flowers with a delicious scent, they are just a pinky version of the traditional green plant.

page 1/2 go to
To leave a response to the post you will need to be a registered user. Sign-up here or Login here
Similar recipes
In the Shop
One Day Cookery Course
One Day Cookery Course
Date:
In the Shop
Saturday Night at River Cottage
Saturday Night at River Cottage
Date:
Login or Sign-up

Login & Sign-up

Forgotten your password? Retrieve it here
Or connect via Facebook
Connect with Facebook
Join River Cottage
Close
Shopping basket: 0 items £0.00