Elderflower cordial

By author Sophie Grigson


  • 12 elderflower heads (in bloom)
  • 600g white sugar
  • 900ml boiling water
  • 2 lemons (if store bought lemons, remove wax coating with boiling water)
  • 35g citric acid


I've adapted Sophie Grigson's classic recipe for this cordial concentrate.

The cordial needs to develop overnight before bottling, so it's a two-day process. Citric acid works as a preservative for the cordial. You can buy citric acid from health food shops and supermarkets in the 'make and bake' aisle. Elderflowers deteriorate quickly once picked, so it's best to have the other ingredients ready before harvesting.


Detail of white Elderflower head.
Trim the elderflower stalks close to the flower heads and remove any leaves. Place the heads in a large ceramic bowl. Discard stalks and leaves.
To make the sugar syrup, put the sugar and boiling water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Elderflower with bottles, mint and fruit.
Peel the rind from the lemons, then slice the fruit. Put the lemon slices and the peel into the bowl of flower heads.
Elderflower and lemon steeping in a bowl.
Pour the hot (but not boiling) syrup over the flower and lemon mixture. Add the citric acid and stir until dissolved. Cover the bowl with a large plate or a cloth and leave for 24 hours at room temperature.
Prepare and sterilise airtight bottles - approximately 1.2 litres in total. Using a fine strainer lined with three layers of muslin, strain the syrup from the flowers and fruit into a clean bowl. Measure the liquid and divide evenly between the bottles. Leave for two weeks to allow the flavours to meld before opening. Stored in a cool place, the cordial will keep for several months; refrigerate after opening.
To serve
Dilute using one part cordial to five parts freshly chilled water, or soda water or mineral water for sparkle, or to your taste. It has a delicate fragrance and subtle flavour. Add a sprig of mint or lemon verbena if you have some in the herb garden.

This recipe appeared in the post A taste of English summer on February 18, 2013.

Have you tried this recipe?

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