Easy Classic Elderflower Cordial

Classic elderflower cordial recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Steeping: 48 hrs
Total: 48 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 30 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
135 Calories
0g Fat
35g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 30
Amount per serving
Calories 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 10mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of the most refreshing drinks for the summer is an elderflower cordial. This recipe is quick, easy to make, and a great excuse for a long walk collecting flowers. The elderflower season is short—late May to mid-July—so making this wonderful, refreshing drink is a great way to preserve these heavily scented flowers. When stored in sterilized bottles, the cordial will keep for several weeks. The sweet, delicately floral, somewhat fruity cordial is also useful in many other recipes, like ice cream, relish, and cocktails. 

A word of warning—if you are out collecting elderflowers, make sure you have permission to pick them and never pick flowers from trees on roadsides as they may be tainted with gas fumes.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds sugar
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 4 medium lemons (washed)
  • 2 ounces citric acid powder (available over the counter at any pharmacy)
  • 30 large elderflower heads (shaken to remove any insects)
  • Garnish: lemon slices

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for elderflower cordial
    ​The Spruce 
  2. Place the sugar in a large saucepan, stockpot, or a large Pyrex bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved; let cool.

    Place sugar in pan
    ​The Spruce
  3. Grate the zest of the lemons with a fine grater and add to the sugar water. Make sure to only grate the yellow and not the white pith.

    Grate lemons
    ​The Spruce
  4. Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the water.

    Slice the lemons
    ​The Spruce
  5. Add the citric acid and stir.

    Add the citric acid and stir
    ​The Spruce
  6. Add the flower heads to the water and stir again.

    Add flowerheads to water
    ​The Spruce
  7. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours.

    Cover
    ​The Spruce
  8. Strain through a clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.

    Strain mixture
    ​The Spruce
  9. Using a funnel, fill sterilized glass bottles with the liquid.

  10. To serve, pour over ice, garnish with lemon slices, and enjoy.

    Elderflower cordial in glass
    ​The Spruce

Ways to Use

  • Dilute the cordial with still or fizzy water.
  • Use to flavor ice creams and fruit fools (puréed fruit mixed with whipped cream)
  • Add to a vinaigrette for a summer salad.
  • Create a floral dessert by using it in a cheesecake.
  • Combine with summer fruits in a homemade jelly.

How to Store

  • Seal the bottles and store them in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator) for a few weeks; or you can process them in a canning water bath to preserve them for longer storage.
  • Another option is to freeze the elderflower cordial in plastic bottles.
  • Once you open a bottle, it must be stored in the refrigerator.

Where Can I Find Elderflowers?

Elderflowers may be found in a variety of locations—from parks to the roadside—but they aren't commonly sold in stores or markets, although they can be purchased online. Many people will set out to gather the flower heads once they learn where elderberry plants flourish and have bloomed flowers that are ready to pick. There are other white flowers that may appear similar, so make sure you know what you are looking for: a very large bush with clusters of white flowers and not small white flowers that grow directly out of the ground.

How to Sterilize the Bottles

To sterilize the glass bottles, rinse in the dishwasher, or place in a 300 F/150 C oven until the bottles are warmed through but not red-hot. Handle with care.