homemade elderflower cordial

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower is in bloom right now, so we made some elderflower cordial at the weekend. If you have an elder tree in your garden that’s quite handy, otherwise you can forage for elderflowers but avoid trees next to busy roads. Carefully snip off the flower heads with a little stalks as possible so as not to damage the plant, and don’t pick too many flowers from the same tree. The best time to pick elderflowers is in the morning, and ideally when they are dry (though that’s not always possible in Scotland…)

homemade elderflower cordial


Here’s what you’ll need to make approx. 1.5 litres of cordial:

  • 15 large elderflower heads 
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 50g citric acid (optional)
  • 500-750g granulated sugar

You’ll also need a large saucepan, a large bowl, a muslin cloth (and some clothes pegs or a colander), a funnel, some sterilised bottles.

homemade elderflower cordial
homemade elderflower cordial


  • Check your elderflower heads for any dirt or little insects and shake them off. Don’t wash them, as you’ll wash away all the pollen and the lovely scent.
  • Add the elderflower heads, lemon slice, water and citric acid to a large saucepan. Citric acid for culinary use is available from pharmacies. It gives the cordial a tangier taste and also makes it last longer. If you can’t find any citric acid you can leave it out, but then you must keep the finished cordial in the fridge at all times.
  • Bring the pan to a boil, give it a good stir, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan, and leave everything to infuse for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours. The best time to pick elderflowers is in the morning, so I leave them to infuse until the next morning.
  • After infusing, strain the liquid through a muslin cloth in to a large bowl. I clipped my cloth on the bowl with some clothes pegs, but you could also line a colander with the cloth and sit that over a bowl. Once the liquid has finishing dripping through, give the cloth a good squeeze to get the rest of the flavour out of the pulp. Discard the pulp when you’re done.
  • Give your saucepan a quick rinse, then pour the strained liquid back in. Add the sugar and bring the liquid to the boil whilst continuously stirring to dissolve all the sugar. When we made this the first time, we used 750g sugar but we’ve been reducing our sugar consumption a lot in the last year so this time we only used 500g and I thought it was still sweet enough. So you can adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet you like things.
  • Once brought the the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Decant the liquid in to clean, sterilised bottles while it is still hot, being careful not to burn yourself. Use a funnel, and ideally a helpful friend to keep the bottle steady.
homemade elderflower cordial

Once the cordial has cooled, you can mix it with sparkling mineral water for a nice, refreshing drink. Keep opened bottles and any cordial made without citric acid in the fridge. If you have used citric acid, you should be able to keep bottles out of the fridge until you open them.

homemade elderflower cordial

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