Easy Homemade Elderflower Cordial
An easy recipe for homemade elderflower cordial for a real taste of Summer in a bottle
You know it’s the beginning of Summer when the air is filled with the sweet scent of elderflowers.
After the Spring rain, they seem to burst forth like floral fireworks and there’s nothing better than bottling this joy and making homemade cordial.
Bottled elderflower cordial makes the perfect gift to take along to a summer garden party or picnic that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Simply poured over ice and a slice of lemon, this refreshing drink is sure to please - but you’ll need to make enough as you won’t want it to come to an end.
I’ve had several attempts at making elderflower cordial in the past - some more successful that others - but with a bit of tweaking here and there this is now my go-to recipe.
I only do easy so this method doesn’t take much effort, but its results are so tasty that you’ll want to make it year after year.
The best time to pick Elderflowers
Elderflowers generally start blooming around mid May here in Somerset, although when I was in France last May they were nearly over so I had to act quick!
Writing this now and over a week into June some are starting to turn, but they’re still plenty of elderflowers for the picking.
Ideally, you’ll want to pick the flowers when there are still some unopened buds on them and away from any roads so your cordial is free from traffic pollution as much as possible.
They grow freely and abundantly in hedgerows so make the most of the warm weather and make an event of it.
Collect the elderflowers when they’re dry as the perfume will be at it’s best and they’ll smell glorious.
You’ll need to pick between 25 and 30 heads - they come off quite easily with a bit of a tug.
Preparing the Elderflowers
Once you’re back home, be sure to leave the flower heads somewhere for an hour or so allowing the bugs and insects to crawl away.
You don’t want to miss out on this stage - I checked each head carefully and was so glad I did as I saved a ladybird! No one wants crunchy cordial!
You can also hold the heads upside down and give them a bit of a shake - and as long as your elderflower isn’t over ripe you won’t loose too many flowers.
After this initial preparation the elderflowers will be left to work their magic as they steep for 24 hours or so, then it’s just a case of adding a few finishing touches and bottling it all up to enjoy.
Read on to try this easy Summer recipe. There’s also a free printable version of the recipe waiting for you to download at the end. Enjoy!
Your elderflower cordial will last up to 4 weeks in the fridge or you can freeze it in plastic bottles so it lasts longer.
An optional extra to prolong it’s shelf life is to add about 2tsp of citric acid the same time as the sugar. I didn’t, simply because it meant getting another ingredient which was making it not as easy!
Ingredients to make 2 litres of Elderflower Cordial
25 - 30 elderflower heads
2 litres of boiled water
2 large lemons (or 3 small)
You’ll also need
1 large pan
another large pan or bowl
a vegetable peeler or grater
some muslin cloth or clean tea towel
empty glass bottles with lids
a funnel or jug
What to do
Place all of the prepared elderflower heads (see above) into a large pan and pour over a kettle’s worth of boiling water, around 2 litres. If it’s a bit less that’s fine as you’ll want your cordial nice and concentrated.
Peel the zest from the lemons straight into the pan using a vegetable peeler so you have large thin pieces. Alternatively use a cheese grater. Squeeze the juice from the lemons straight into the pan (don’t worry about pips) then add the squeezed fruits too. No flavour is wasted and it’ll balance out the sweetness with some sharpness.
For a zesty alternative, try adding oranges or grapefruit instead.
Give the pan a good stir with a wooden spoon then pop the lid on and leave for 24 hours. Feel free to give it a stir every now and again to help release the flavours, 2 or 3 times should do, more if you just can’t help yourself!
After 24 hours or so, prepare the glass bottles so they’re sterile and ready to use. I’ve found that the simplest way to do this is to place the bottles in an empty sink, including the lids, and slowly pour boiled water into them, making sure they don’t topple over. Move onto the next step whilst they cool down enough to be able to handle.
Place the pan of the Elderflower mixture on to the hob and turn the heat on to high. Add 1kg of caster sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. If this sounds like a lot of sugar then I’ve found that you can halve it and it still tastes great.
Bring the mixture to the boil then turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, empty the hot water from the bottles. Wearing rubber gloves for protection as well as using tongs or a tea towel will avoid any injuries. Leave the bottles in the sink for easy filling.
Now you’ll need to separate the liquid from everything else in the pan. To do this you’ll need another large pan or bowl with a sieve lined with muslin over it - I like to double up the muslin cloth for extra filtering. Using a ladle, remove the contents of the hot pan through the sieve. You should be left with a lovely glossy and syrupy liquid which smells like heaven. Discard the flower heads and lemon.
One at a time, place the funnel into each bottle, using a ladle to fill it up with the cordial liquid. If you don’t have a funnel, you can fill the bottles from a jug instead. Repeat until all bottles are full to the top then leave to cool. Once cool you can place on the lids and refrigerate. Voila!
To drink, dilute the cordial to taste with water - sparkling water is my favourite - then add some ice and lemon to finish it off.
It also tastes divine added to a Gin and Tonic, or how about adding a splash to a cold glass of Prosecco.
Try making ice lollies with it, either diluted with water or added to juice, or use it to make icing with. The possibilities are endless!
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Download and print the recipe for free!
I hope you’ve found this recipe for Elderflower cordial inspiring and that you’ll be out foraging to make your own homemade batches soon.
And if you get a chance to let me know how it goes then I’d love to hear from you by leaving a message in the comments below :)
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