This easy to make elderflower cordial is a versatile and deliciously refreshing drink, perfect for summer days. Fragrant and aromatic, with delicate floral notes, it tastes great mixed with some sparkling water, but can also be added to cocktails and you can even use it in baking!
Making your own cordial from scratch is much easier than you may think, and it's much cheaper than buying it. It will also make fun, delicious and thoughtful gift for friends and family!
Can you believe we are half way through the year already? Me neither! But June is one of the best months in the whole year (at least it is in my calendar!), and it brings so much wonderful produce with it! Including the star of today's recipe- elderflower!
Why you will love this recipe
Because it's like a summer in a bottle! This sweet and fragrant liquid can be used in so many different ways, and has some fantastic health benefits. It helps to fight colds and flu, but most importantly, it has a fantastic flavour! It can be mixed with some sparkling water, for a super refreshing drink, perfect to cool down with on a hot day. You can also add it to wine, prosecco, champagne or G+T, just to take it up a notch or impress your guests.
What is an elderflower?
In shortest way possible- it's a flower from the elderberry tree, also known as sambucus nigra. Elder trees are incredibly common across the UK, and if you are walking along the fields or countryside lanes, the chances of finding one are very high. It has these beautifully fragrant, lacy white tiny flowers, and they can be used to make wines, champagnes and cordials.
These tiny, white flowers will develop into purple elderberries later in the summer. They can also be used to make elderberry cordial. But before they mature, you can use these beautiful and fragrant flowers to make your very own elderflower cordial.
There are different types and varieties of elderflowers, with European Elder being the most common one. This one produces the creamy-white flowers. The pink/ purple flowers are produced by Black Elder.
One of the best things about this elderflower cordial recipe is the fact that it's super easy! There are only 4 ingredients needed to make it:
- Fresh elderflowers - Use only freshly picked elderflower heads. Pick the fullest and 'fluffiest' of the flower heads, without any rotting or browning flowers.
- Lemons - 3 medium to large lemons go into this cordial recipe. We are using lemon peel, lemon slices and lemon juice. Citric acid from the lemons will also help to preserve the cordial and will extend it's life. You can also replace one of the lemons with 1 heaped teaspoon of citric acid.
- Sugar - White caster or granulated sugar. You can adjust the amount of sugar that goes into this recipe to your taste. Just remember that you will need enough sugar to create the syrupy texture.
This recipe will make approximately 3 litres of cordial
Although there isn't any special equipment needed to make this cordial, there are just few things and items you will need:
- Large saucepan - Use the largest saucepan you have.
- Fine sieve - Once cordial is cooked and cooled, it will need to be strained, to get rid of any unwanted bits.
- Clean tea towel or muslin cloth - Used to line the sieve in order to stop any tiny particles of flowers or bugs going into cordial.
- Funnel - Not necessary, but definitely handy item to have. It makes it much easier to pour the liquid into bottles without unnecessary mess.
- Ladle - Again, optional, but good to have.
- Glass bottles or jars - You will need something to decant the ready cordial into. Sterilised bottles or jars are a must. See below for how to sterilise glass bottles and jars.
How to sterilise glass bottles and jars
Run your glass bottles or jars through dishwasher, or wash them by hand in a warm, soapy water. Rinse them well, but do not dry them. Instead, leave them to stand on a baking tray while they are still wet.
Heat the oven to about 160 Celsius. Place the baking tray with clean, wet bottles or jars (and their lids) to preheated oven for about 15 mins. Remove from the oven. They are now good to use in preserving.
When pouring the cordial into bottles/ jars, avoid touching them or getting any of the mixture onto the rim of them as this could introduce bacteria.
You want to fill the bottles or jars not quite to the top. Leave about ½ cm gap at the top between the syrup/ preserve and the lid/ bottle top.
If you would like, you can watch this Instagram Reel to see how easy it is to make this cordial.
Once you picked your elderflowers, you want to start making the cordial as soon as possible. The delicate, fragrant flowers will wilt quickly, so the sooner you can start, the better.
Gently shake the flower heads above the kitchen sink to get rid of any dirt and insects. I strongly advise against washing the flower heads. This is because the pollen in these tiny elderflower blossoms is what makes this cordial so delicious and so fragrant.
Trim and remove biggest stalks and set the flowers aside. Fill the large saucepan with 1.5 litre of water, then add sugar. Bring it to boil over medium heat, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Add elderflowers, lemon slices, lemon peel and lemon juice or citric acid to the syrup. Stir it all up, making sure the flowers are submerged in the water. Cover with lid and allow this mixture to infuse for 24 hours.
Next day, strain the mixture into large bowl, using fine sieve lined with tea towel or muslin. Pour into sterilised bottles or jars and enjoy!
What else can elderflower cordial be used for?
Apart from enjoying it with some sparkling water or mixed into cocktail, you can also enjoy it in many food recipes. Drizzle it over some fruit salad or ice cream. Cordial can also be added to jams and jellies, or whipped into strawberry, raspberry or gooseberry fool.
Last but not least, you can enjoy it in your baking too! Add a splash to your cake batter, or use it to infuse the sponge cake, or the frosting/ buttercream.
Tips for picking the elderflowers
Here are few handy tips to bare in mind when going elderflower picking:
- Elderflowers are usually ready from late May to mid-June.
- Best time for picking elderflowers is in the morning, when the buds are freshly open.
- It's best to pick them on a warm, sunny day and well away from any traffic fumes.
- Avoid plastic bags and use wicker baskets for the flower heads.
- You can use small knife or scissors to snip the flower heads, but they are just as easily removed by hand.
- Wear suitable clothing. Long trousers and boots are great for avoiding being stung by the nettles!
- Make sure to leave some of the flower heads on the tree. They will develop into elderberries in late summer.
Storing and freezing
Store the elderflower cordial in sterilised bottles or jars. It will last over 6 months in a properly sterilised containers. Keep in in a cool, dry place.
Once opened, it will last for 4-6 weeks. Store any open bottles in the fridge. You can also freeze the cordial in plastic bottles. Make sure to leave some space at the top before screwing the bottle tops back on.
You can also freeze it in the ice cube trays and add it straight to your drink or a dish.
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Classic Elderflower Cordial
- large saucepan
- sterilised bottles or jars
- 30 large fresh elderflower heads (stalks removed/trimmed)
- 3 medium unwaxed lemons (juice and zest)
- 1 ½ kg sugar caster or granulated
- Gently shake the flowers over the kitchen sink to clean out of any bugs. Do not was the elderflower heads as this will wash out any pollen from the flowers. Peel the skin off the lemons, then cut two of the lemons into slices, and juice the remaining lemon.
- Pour 1.5 l of water into a large saucepan and place it over a medium heat. Add sugar and stir. Allow the sugar to melt completely, stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to boil, then remove it from heat and set aside.
- Add elderflowers, lemon slices, lemon peel and lemon juice to the mixture. Use a spoon or spatula to stir it all together and gently press the elderflowers, so they are covered and submerged in the water. Cover the mixture with lid, and allow it to infuse for 24 hours.
- Use a clean tea towel or a muslin cloth to line the kitchen sieve with, then strain the cordial through it, disposing of any bits left in the towel/ cloth. Use a funnel and ladle to pour the cordial into sterilised bottles or jars.
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Calories are per 3 litres of cordial. The average serving of 50 ml of elderflower cordial has about 40 kcal.
- Bottled cordial will last for up to 6 months in the sterilised bottles or jars. Once opened, store it in the fridge and use it within 4-6 weeks. You can also freeze it in plastic bottles or in ice cube trays.