Homemade elderflower cordial

Homemade elderflower cordial

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(26 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 10 mins Plus picking and 24 hours steeping


Makes about 4 litres

Fragrant and refreshing, springtime elderflower cordial is easy to make. Mix with sparkling water to create elderflower pressé, or add to wine, prosecco or champagne to start a party in style

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per 250ml

  • kcal619
  • fat0g
  • saturates0g
  • carbs165g
  • sugars165g
  • fibre0g
  • protein0g
  • salt0.03g
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  • 2½ kg white sugar, either granulated or caster



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

  • 2 unwaxed lemons



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • 20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
  • 85g citric acid (from chemists)


  1. Put the sugar and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.

  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.

  3. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

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Comments, questions and tips

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20th Jun, 2019
Much better than any shop bought elderflower drink I do use more flowers but Been making this recipe for years it is superb with sparkling water the aroma from the bubbles is amazing. I always use about 60 flower heads or more and I use a bit less citric acid.
Walker1411's picture
16th Jun, 2019
This cordial tastes amazing with chilled sparkling water. A perfect spring/summer drink. A lovely gift to give to friends and family.
8th Jun, 2019
I've been making this for the last five years. Get so many orders from family and friends who say it is the best elderflower cordial they've ever tasted! It is INCREDIBLY sweet, so you need no more than 2 tablespoons of cordial in a glass of water (try less first). I'm scared to reduce the sugar in the recipe as I'm not sure if it would alter the keeping quality, so I just double the quantity of elderflowers to strengthen the flavour. I've never been able to get more than 3 litres of cordial using this recipe. I don't know if others find the same. With this yield in mind I've worked out that each tablespoon (15ml) of undiluted cordial contains about 12.5 grams (or 2 teaspoons) of sugar which equals about 50 calories. So bear this in mind when pouring a glass! Enjoy!
6th Jun, 2019
Found this over acidic with 85gm citric acid, so now make it with 50gm and double the quantity of flower heads - wonderful flavour... now I just need a bigger freezer!
20th Jun, 2018
Left out the citric acid and added a quartered orange (a la Jamie Oliver), and I've now got 2 litres in the fridge and 2 x 500ml bottles in the freezer.
Narf P's picture
Narf P
12th Jun, 2018
On second batch for this year. First has been passed round and drank and gone! Still have elderflowers left on the plant which was kind enough to give us the flowers :) I reduced the sugar to about 1.2kg/1.5 litres of water. 2 lemons with their rind and only one pack of citric acid (as it came from the chemist, about 50ish grams). Steep for 48 hours and strain, bottle and enjoy :) We've also popped some into plastic bottles (recycled of course_ and froze for later in the summer, its looking like elderflower sorbet??!)
31st May, 2018
I use 1kg sugar, 1.5 litres of water, 4 lemons (zest pared, then lemons thickly sliced), 30 large flower heads, 55g citric acid. Steep for 48hrs. Oh, and trim off as much stalk as possible. If you have a pink elderflower use that, the cordial ends up a beautiful colour!
15th Jun, 2017
My third year making this cordial. Still as delicious as ever! Previous comments have suggested reducing the sugar. I would say don't do this, but greatly increase the quantity of elderflowers (double). That way, you can use far less cordial but it is still packed with elderflower taste.
7th Jun, 2017
Suggested improvements; reduce sugar to 2kg and citric acid to 40g. Also pick elderflowers away from roadside and pick them early in the morning to reduce insects vis-a-vis thunder bugs. Finally, always remember to ask the elderflower shrub if you can take a share of her blossom don't take all the flowers. Folk law but one that makes sense for the berries you get later in the autumn will be juicier!
28th Jun, 2016
I followed the recipe but thought 85g of citric acid was an awful lot. I've made this before and it turned out well. This time its so sour and bitter! I think it was far too much citric acid. Its unusable. Very disappointing after all that trouble.


27th Jun, 2016
has anyone tried making cordial from the flowers of Sambuca niger? It is the "first cousin" of elderflower and has pink flowers. I thought it might produce a cordial with a rosy glow. Has anyone tried this yet? Or shall I be the pioneer?!
7th Jun, 2017
Yes. It makes a pink champagne and a pretty pale pink elderflower jam.
15th Jul, 2015
Where do you get citric acid, the pharmacies around me (Kilmarnock) just shake their heads and say "oh we don't stock that anymore"?
27th Jun, 2016
I assume you have tried Boots. They should order it for you. Also try a home brew shop.
8th Jul, 2015
Similar problem to Debbie H 31 May 2014. Is it safe to drink?
8th Jul, 2015
Was there an answer to Debbie.H.'s question on 31 May 2014? I have a similar problem, my bottles, after only two weeks in the fridge, unopened, contain suspended "clouds". If I found that in a commercially produced bottle, I would throw it away. Is this safe to drink?
31st May, 2014
Help needed please! I made this five days ago and it's delicious, today I got a bottle out of the fridge and it was full of suspended floating bits. I looked at another unopened bottle and it too looks the same. I followed the recipe to the letter, what's gone wrong?
7th Jun, 2017
And to add variety add 6 cubes of crystalized ginger. Adds a slight kick to the cordial.
10th Jul, 2016
This cordial keeps well I have some left from last year I need to strain it but it tastes great I think the citric acid helps to proserve it
8th Jul, 2015
I have been making elderflower cordial for many years so thought I would share a few tips. I buy my citric acid in 1kg bags from Amazon, it is quite reasonably priced and has a use-by date of several years. I have found that if you freeze it in small quantities (I use 500ml water bottles) it freezes perfectly, however if it is possible to preserve it using Campden Tablets (used in wine making, also from Amazon) 2 tabs for the recipe above. I also make a lemon and elderflower marmalade from the leftover fruit which is fabulous. For this reason, I double the number of lemons and reduce the citric acid to 50g. After straining, pick out the elderflowers as best as you can, weigh the fruit, put in the food processor and chop quite finely but not so much that is just a mush. Place fruit in a saucepan with the same weight of granulated sugar and bring to the boil, simmer until set-point is reached. Would love to hear how you get on!
21st Jun, 2015
Brilliant! Very sweet, so you don't need much. As it's so sweet, I would suggest adding many more elderflower heads for more elderflower taste. That way, you can use less cordial but still have plenty of flavour. I wasn't able to remove all the little bugs before adding the flowers to the syrup, so there were a few aphids left in the teatowel. Didn't seem to matter! Was only able to make 3 litres of cordial with the amounts in the recipe.
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