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Elderflower Cordial Recipe

& tips for foraging

I’ve been eagerly waiting for the elderflower to come out. A little too eager, perhaps. I missed the boat last year and was determined to not let the season pass me by this time around! Nothing says summer quite like a refreshing, ice cold glass of elderflower cordial. There’s such a joy to be found in foraging for and making it yourself. Elderflower Cordial RecipeElderflower Cordial Recipe

Elderflower is easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. Right now in the UK, you won’t be short of places to find it. These white flowers appear in abundance down country lanes, parks, woodlands and will be around for a good few weeks to come. Sure, you can pick up elderflower cordial from most supermarkets, but there’s nothing quite like the sweet heady scent of your own homemade bottles. Cheap to make and versatile too!

Tips for picking

  • Collect on a warm, dry and sunny morning. Not so early that the heads are damp from the dew but early enough before the bees steal nectar and they start to lose their heady aroma. It will depend on conditions and the trees do differ, try and check your local spots a few times to get to know the good ones.
  • Old flowers that look as though they are turning brown won’t make for the best batch. Pick early in the season if you can, from late May through early June.
  • Leave enough of the white heads to allow for them to develop into berries for elderberry season come Autumn.
  • Avoid the flowers that are too close to the ground, just in case dogs have decided to cock their leg in that direction!
  • Avoid picking close to busy roads, the flowers do take on car fumes.
  • Elderflower Cordial RecipeElderflower Cordial RecipeElderflower Cordial Recipe

Making use of the cordial with sparkling water is simply delicious but also a lovely addition to a gin and tonic. Try adding to cakes or other sweet bakes. I even found a Nigel Slater recipe using it in a strawberry, cucumber and elderflower salad, which I’m desperate to try! Whatever your preference, I promise it won’t be something that hangs around for long.

Any other ideas you might have are of course welcome, feel free to leave me any in the comments below!

Recipe for Elderflower Cordial


2 x 750ml bottles Servings
  • roughly 25 - 30 elderflower heads, stems trimmed
  • 3 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 lime
  • 1 kg granulated sugar
  • 30 g citric acid (available in pharmacists or more conveniently, Wilkos)


  1. Add the sugar and 1.5 litres of water to a large pan. Gently stir over heat, being careful not to bring to a boil, until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the pared zest of the lemons, then cut them into slices along with the lime, add to the sugar syrup with the citric acid.
  3. Prepare the elderflower heads by gently shaking to discard any insects, swirl them in a sink of still cold water to rinse and then add to the sugar syrup mix. Give everything one last stir together.
  4. Cover and leave to stand for 24 hours.
  5. Strain through a muslin cloth into sterilised bottles (a funnel will be a great help here) and seal to store in the fridge for up to two months. Freezing in ice cube trays also an option, but I've never known homemade cordial to hang around that long!