Homemade elderflower cordial recipe

It’s always a joy to see the creamy white elderflowers appear in the warmer months. For many, their distinctive scent and flavour heralds the long-awaited arrival of summer, whatever the weather is up to! A sip of homemade elderflower cordial can be the perfect summer thirst-quencher.

While not exactly super healthy, homemade cordials tend to beat most shop-bought varieties hands down on flavour. What’s more, you can tweak the amount of sugar so they aren’t too sickly sweet. Making cordials at home ensures that they don’t contain any artificial colourings or preservatives either. Liz has trialled and tweaked many elderflower recipes over the years – cordial-making is an annual event in her kitchen – and this one works the best. It’s deliciously refreshing diluted with plain or fizzy water. Garnish with slices of lemon, a sprig of mint and plenty of ice for an extra special drink.

Pick the elderflowers on a sunny day for maximum ‘ripeness’. The flowers should be creamy white (no brown flower heads as these will taint the cordial). Brush them gently to dislodge any lurking insects but be careful not to shake out too much pollen, which gives added flavour! The following recipe makes enough for about 2 x 750ml bottles of concentrated cordial or approximately 10-15 litres of diluted cordial.

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  • 20 elderflower heads
  • 1.8kg sugar
  • 1.2 litres of water
  • 2 x unwaxed organic lemons
  • 75g citric acid


  1. In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water by slowly bringing to the boil, stirring to prevent the sugar from burning. Add the peeled zest of the lemons cut into strips without the white pith and add to the sugar syrup. Chop the peeled lemons into chunks and add to the mixture. Stir well, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Add the citric acid, stirring well until completely dissolved. Finally, add the elderflower heads and stir well to completely cover with the syrupy mixture. Cover with a clean cloth and leave for 24 hours for the flavours to infuse.
  3. The following day, strain the deliciously fragrant cordial through a sieve lined with a muslin cloth and pour into clean glass bottles for storage in the fridge. This cordial freezes well and can be enjoyed as a taste of summer throughout the year. Use rinsed-out milk cartons as freezing containers, taking care not to over-fill as the liquid expands once frozen.