Spiffing elderflower cordial recipe

Elderflower cordial is one of those drinks that make me feel that I’m a character in an Enid Blyton book.

You know how the Famous Five went on endless picnics and every time someone drank a bottle of ginger ale, they’d proclaim to the other four, “I do declare this to be the best ginger ale I’ve ever tasted in my entire life…”

Homemade elderflower cordial
Life is better with elderflower cordial. Fact.

Elderflower cordial is a bit like that for me. I love the stuff. And I feel an overwhelming urge to use words like “spiffing” whenever I drink it.

But despite my great love for it, this is the first year I’ve ever attempted to make it.

For some reason, I always had it in my head that elderflower cordial was really, really tricky to make. Despite being a prolific chutney, marmalade and jam maker, I’ve never branched out into drinks – fearing, perhaps, making something as unpleasant as my grandfather’s notorious home brewed wine used to be.

But I met up with a friend last week, who not only gave me a bottle of elderflower cordial she’d made, but also shared her recipe with me. And it turns out, it’s super simple.

The last elderflower blossoms are still on the tree, so if you’ve been similarly put off giving it a go in the past, head out and pick some now and make yourself up a batch to keep for the summer.

Elderflower blossoms
Lovely and frothy blossoms


  • 20 heads of elderflower
  • 800g white sugar
  • 3 pints water
  • 4 lemons, zested and sliced
  • 50g citric acid

What to do

Zested, sliced lemons
First, take your lemons…
  1. Boil the water and pour into a large bowl.
  2. Put the sugar in to the freshly-boiled water and stir til it has dissolved.
  3. Leave to cool
  4. When cool, add the lemon zest and slices and the citric acid
  5. Check the elderflower heads for bugs and put the flowers in to the bowl. (I could have spent a little longer doing this, judging by the amount of black things that were floating around at the end, but at this point,  you’re making something that looks and smells so delicious, you don’t even care if it’s got bugs in. Bugs? They probably taste just like roses…)

    homemade elderflower cordial
    I know, it looks too good to be true, doesn’t it?
  6. Leave, covered with a tea towel, for 24 hours. (I forgot mine and left it for 48 hours. It was fine…)
  7. Strain through a fine sieve ( muslin would be even better) and pour into sterilised bottles. (I didn’t bother to sterilise my bottles, because I was feeling lazy and I knew I’d drink it all before it would have a chance to go off anyway… I also put some in a plastic bottle and just stuck it into the freezer. I’ll let you know if that worked when it comes to taking it out.)
Elderflower cordial
Enjoy in a completely uncontrived situation like this one…

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8 thoughts on “Spiffing elderflower cordial recipe

  1. Same, it all seems too tricky. The citric acid bit anyway. I’ll have to work out where to buy it and then actually do that. But, I’ve got a whole lot of those snazzy bottles (the olive oil ones with the flip lid like yours) stashed away, ready & waiting.

    1. I’ve not tried it with gin, but I have had some with prosecco and that was absolutely delicious. But a little bit too delicious as I forgot it was even a tiny bit alcoholic and drank a pint glass full (I’d already poured the cordial before deciding to have it with prosecco instead of water) in about five minutes one evening.

  2. mmmm, wonderful! Ooh, black elderberry! I adore this flowers! I dry them and add at tea together other herbs: lavender, thyme, bloodroot, mint, milfoil, calendula….

  3. Hey, you did so well to find citric acid, I couldn’t find it anywhere! The chemist actually uttered that line, “If I had a pound for everyone who’s asked me…”

    1. Oh I never knew how good that corner shop was! I just assumed everyone could pick up a bag from their corner shops too, ha ha.

      I’ve just had a quick Google and you can buy it from Lakeland (oh how I love that site!) here and also from Amazon here (from the slightly amusingly named “Bigger Jugs”) in case anyone else is struggling to find it…

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