A Recipe for Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial in a glass with a slice of lemon

It's June, and we're in elderflower season. The elderflower scent fills the air as you walk past an elderflower bush in full bloom. No wonder so many of us love to bottle that scent in homemade elderflower cordial.

We thought you might like to try out our recipe. It's courtesy of our beauty editor, Emma, who has done this recipe several years running. So, it comes tried and tested. It is a very slightly adapted version of one cut out from the Telegraph Magazine quite a few years ago so not strictly hers, or ours. But it's a goodie.

The difference with this, to some recipes, is that you don't boil up the elderflowers. This way the result is fresher and has a just-picked flavour. The addition of lemons adds to the freshness of its taste. So, here goes:

What you need

  • 1.3kg unrefined sugar (castor or granulated are fine, and if you don't have unrefined, normal is too)
  • 1.8 litres boiling water
  • 30 just-picked elderflowers (the larger the better)
  • 50g citric acid (from the pharmacist)
  • 4 unwaxed lemons, all sliced (or try the Telegraphs version which swapped two lemons for two oranges)

Day 1

Pick your elderflowers. Morning is a great time to pick because the scent is somehow fresher and lighter. Later in the day and the scent is a little richer. The choice is yours and your timetables. I use kitchen scissors to snip the flowers into a carrier bag. A pair of lightweight gardening gloves like our In The Garden ones below, will protect your hands. The magic of elderflowers is they pop up everywhere sides of scrubs and parks, in high hedgerows along country lanes and footpaths.



Now for the recipe. Put the sugar into a large bowl and pour on the boiling water. Stir to dissolve, then leave to cool for 30 minutes. As it cools, pick over the flower heads removing any bugs.

Snip the flowers from their stalks (which will spoil the flavour). The little stalks are fine to leave.

Put the sugar syrup, citric acid and sliced fruit in a large bowl or deep saucepan and add the flowers. I use an old, large jam saucepan with a bucket-style handle.

Mix well, cover and leave to infuse somewhere cool for 24 hours. Give it a stir from time to time.

Day 2

Heat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1.

Wash and rinse some screw top bottles or the kind with the swing stoppers.

Remove the closures and place in the oven for 15 minutes to dry. Remove and leave to cool for a further 15 minutes.

Sterilise the lids by boiling in a pan of water for a few minutes. Add any funnels and sieves you are going to use, too. I'm told that putting these items through a dishwasher will also sterilise them.

Strain the elderflower liquid through a fine sieve or clean linen tea towel. Leave to drip for a few minutes, then discard the flowers and fruit. Pour the liquid into the sterilised bottles using a funnel, then seal and leave to cool.

The cordial should last for up to a month in the fridge. You can also freeze the cordial place in plastic bottles (though glass bottles work for me, carefully stored), leaving the lids loose to allow for the liquid to expand when frozen.

PS. Once you've finished, your hands may need a little TLC from all that picking and elderflower cordial making. In the spirit of this recipe our In The Garden beauty range contains extract of elderflower. We recommend the Hand Cream if your hands feel slightly dry and the Barrier Cream if they're feeling really, dry.

Barrier Cream

Shop In The Garden

Elderflower Cordial

How to enjoy 

Simply, in a highball glass topped with a long slug of sparkling mineral water, ice and a slice of lemon. Chin Chin!