How to make cordial
Capture the taste of summer with our guide to making your own cordial. Get foraging for fragrant flavours, then bottle them to enjoy year round or give as a homemade gift.
Whether this is your first foray into homemade cordial or you're a seasoned syrup maker, read on for our cookery team's top tips to help you create the most flavourful infusions. We've got plenty of flavour inspiration for infusing cordials and you can find more in our collection of cordial recipes. Also visit our drinks hub for more inspiration, including homemade liqueurs, cocktails, mocktails, coffee and soft drinks.
What is cordial?
Cordials are a mix of fruit, sugar, water and tartaric or citric acid. The latter ingredients are used as a preservative – they're optional and can be bought from a chemist or health food shop.
Cordials are easy to make, enjoy simply with chilled water or use them to flavour cocktails, desserts and other dishes. Use fresh flowers or fruit that have been gathered in season for the best results. Read our tips in this guide to foraging.
What you will need:
- Fruit, vegetable or florals - for best results, use produce which is in season. Make sure to wash these thoroughly before using.
- Caster sugar - white or golden
- Tartaric acid or citric acid - these are used as a preservative, they're optional and can be bought from a chemist or health food shop.
- Equipment - a sterilised bottle or jar for your cordial, a filter and clean muslin cloth or tea towel to strain the mixture through.
Basic steps for making cordial:
- Depending on your choice of fruit or florals, it will either be boiled in a sugar syrup e.g. rhubarb, or added later. Follow one of the recipes below, e.g. elderflower cordial.
- Add any chosen flavourings to your syrup
- Leave to infuse
- Line a colander with muslin cloth and strain into sterilised bottles
How to sterilise the bottles
Wash the bottles with hot, soapy water, rinse, then place on a baking sheet in an oven at low temperature to dry completely. For more advice on this technique, read our guide on how to sterilise jars.
How to store cordial
Cordials will keep in a cool, dark place for up to a month, or in the fridge for slightly longer. Make sure your cordial is stored correctly or it can start to ferment. It's also fine to freeze if you want to keep it for longer.
More like this
Watch our video on how to make cordial:
One of the most popular cordial flavours is undoubtedly elderflower cordial, sometimes with various tasty additions. We recommend elderflower, lemon & vanilla added to a glass of sparkling water for the perfect summer cooler. Rosehips also preserve well, and mixed with hot water and honey, make a great pick-me-up. Our elderberry cordial makes for a concentrated healthy syrup when you need a boost of vitamin C
Whatever your summer bounty, you can turn it into a sticky, sweet cordial. Our raspberry cordial and blackcurrant cordial are both gorgeously tangy, or you could opt for other fruits like gooseberries, strawberries and blackberries.
For more inspiration, check out our collection of cordial recipes.
How to serve cordial
The most popular way to serve cordial is normally diluted with either plain or sparkling water. Chilled tonic water, prosecco or champagne are great additions. For something special, we recommend also using them in cocktails such as our elderflower & herb cooler, which combines cordial with rosemary, thyme, elderflower liqueur and gin.
Recipes for your cordial
Elderflower cordial and rhubarb combine to make a brilliant flavour duo in our rhubarb and elderflower cake. You can also layer your cordial into a terrific trifle, a spritzer jelly or showstopping elderflow & lemon wedding cake. A whole host of dishes, including syllabubs and fools, cocktails and salads can benefit from a dash of cordial. Get creative!
What's your favourite cordial combo? Let us know in the comments below...