elderflower cordial recipe

Elderflower Cordial Recipe: The Perfect Summer Drink

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As I stroll through my property, I find myself in awe of the beauty and abundance of nature. One of my favorite early summer plants is the elderflower, a delicate white blossom with a sweet fragrance from the American elder tree (Sambucus canadensis). Not only are elderflowers a joy to behold, but they can also be used to create a delicious and refreshing elderflower cordial recipe.

Making this elderflower cordial recipe is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients. The key component is, of course, the elderflowers themselves, which can be found growing wild in many parts of the world. Combined with sugar, water, and a touch of citrus, elderflowers can be transformed into a sweet and tangy syrup that is perfect for mixing with sparkling water or adding to cocktails.

For those who wish to connect with nature and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, making this elderflower cordial recipe is a wonderful way to do so. With just a few steps, anyone can create a delicious and refreshing drink that celebrates the beauty of the natural world


Working with and Understanding Elderflowers

As a bioregional herbalist, I hold a deep conviction in the significance of cultivating meaningful relationships with the native plants in my local area. For me, it is not merely about the practical benefits they offer, but also about developing a sense of reverence and appreciation for their presence. 

When it comes to creating an elderflower cordial, my approach is guided by a profound respect for the elderflower plants that grace my surroundings. These plants have a rich history of traditional uses and possess unique properties that resonate with the land they call home. By engaging with these native plants and incorporating their gifts into my remedies, I not only honor the wisdom of the natural world, but also deepen my connection to the bioregion I inhabit. Crafting an elderflower cordial recipe becomes a heartfelt endeavor, a way to celebrate the beauty and abundance that surrounds us while nurturing a symbiotic relationship with the land and its native flora.

Elderflowers can be found in hedgerows and woodland areas throughout early summer. It’s important to remember to only pick the white flowers, as the green stems and leaves are toxic.

The elder shrub/tree has long been associated with folklore and mythology. In some cultures, it is believed that the elder shrub/tree is home to spirits or fairies. In others, it is seen as a symbol of protection and healing. Regardless of the mythology, the elderberry is a beautiful and fascinating plant.

When it comes to making elderflower cordial, the timing is crucial. Elderflower season typically lasts from late May to early July, with the peak bloom occurring in mid-June. It’s important to pick the flowers when they are fully open and at their most fragrant.

Understanding elderflowers is an essential part of making the perfect elderflower cordial. The beauty and mystery of the elderberry tree, combined with the delicate and fragrant flowers, make for a truly special experience. Whether foraging in the woods or simply enjoying a glass of homemade cordial on a warm summer day, the elderflower is a true treasure of nature.

elderflower cordial recipe

Handling and Preparing Elderflowers

 Here are a few tips on how to handle and prepare elderflowers for making the elderflower cordial recipe:

  • Flowers: Choose elderflowers that are fresh and in full bloom. Avoid using flowers that are wilted or have started to turn brown.
  • Insects and bugs: It’s important to inspect the flowers for insects or bugs before using them. If you find any, gently remove them from the flowers. This can be done simply by giving them a few gentle shakes.
  • Sunny day: Elderflowers are best picked on a sunny day when the flowers are fully open and fragrant.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your elderflower cordial will be bursting with flavor and aroma.

elderflower cordial recipe

Making the Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Making this elderflower cordial recipe involves capturing the essence of the elderflower in a sweet and tangy syrup. Here’s my recipe for homemade elderflower cordial:

Tools Needed:


  • 15 elderflower heads large (use double if small)
  • 2 lemons sliced: Use unwaxed lemons to avoid any unwanted bitterness or chemicals in your cordial.
  • ¼ cup (50 g) citric acid
  • 2½ liters (2.5 liters) water
  • 5 cups (1 kg) sugar


  1. Shake the elderflower heads to remove any insects or debris and give them a gentle swish in cool water. 
  2. In a large pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the elderflower heads, sliced lemons, and citric acid to the pot and stir.
  4. Cover the pot and let the mixture steep for 24 hours.
  5. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, squeezing the flowers to extract as much flavor as possible.
  6. Pour the syrup into sterilized glass bottles using a funnel.

The prep time for this recipe is about 30 minutes, and the total time is 24 hours. 

When making this elderflower cordial recipe, it’s important to use glass bottles that have been sterilized to prevent contamination. You can sterilize bottles by boiling them in water for 10 minutes or running them through a dishwasher cycle.

The key to a successful elderflower cordial is to balance the sweetness with the tanginess of the lemons and citric acid. You can also add a bit of lemon zest to your elderflower cordial to enhance the citrus notes and add a refreshing twist to the recipe.

With this elderflower cordial recipe, you can create a delicious and refreshing drink that captures the essence of the elderflower.

elderflower cordial recipe

Innovative Uses of Elderflower Cordial

Below, you’ll find a few innovative ways to incorporate elderflower cordial into various recipes. Here are a few ideas that I have tried and loved:

  • Elderflower Gin and Tonic: Mix a splash of elderflower cordial into your gin and tonic for a refreshing twist on a classic cocktail.
  • Elderflower Ice Cubes: Freeze elderflower cordial into ice cubes and add them to your favorite drinks for a subtle floral flavor.
  • Elderflower Champagne or Prosecco: Add a splash of elderflower cordial to your favorite bubbly for a sophisticated and floral twist.
  • Elderflower Cake: Add elderflower cordial to your cake batter for a delicate and delicious flavor.
  • Elderflower Sorbet: Mix elderflower cordial with lemon sorbet for a refreshing and floral dessert.
  • Elderflower Liqueur: Mix elderflower cordial with vodka or brandy and let it infuse for a few weeks to create a delicious and fragrant liqueur.
  • Elderflower Jelly: Mix elderflower cordial with gelatin and fruit juice for a delicate and flavorful jelly.
  • Elderflower Vinaigrette: Mix elderflower cordial with olive oil and vinegar for a delicate and flavorful salad dressing.
  • Elderflower Pancakes: Add elderflower cordial to your pancake batter for a sweet and floral breakfast treat.
  • Elderflower Fruit Salad: Mix elderflower cordial with fresh fruit for a delicious and refreshing summer salad.
  • Elderflower and Berries: Mix elderflower cordial with fresh berries for a delicious and unique flavor combination.

These are just a few of the innovative ways that I have found to use elderflower cordial in my cooking and drinks. I hope that they inspire you to experiment with this delicious and versatile ingredient.

elderflower cordial recipe

Storing Elderflower Cordial

You can enjoy the cordial immediately after preparing it, and it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Another option is to freeze the cordial in plastic containers or ice cube trays, allowing you to thaw and use it as needed. Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the freshness and flavor of your elderflower cordial over an extended period.

If you plan to store your elderflower cordial is in the fridge, I recommend using glass bottles. Glass bottles offer several advantages, particularly in terms of sterilization. Glass can be easily sterilized, which helps prevent the growth of bacteria and ensures the longevity of the cordial. Furthermore, glass containers do not interact with the cordial, preserving its taste and quality. Bottles with airtight seals also help to maintain the freshness of the cordial and prevents any external odors from permeating it.  I also prefer glass bottles because they are a more eco-friendly option than using plastic. Glass bottles can be reused and recycled, reducing waste and helping to protect the environment.

It’s also a good idea to label your bottles with the date that the cordial was made, so that you can keep track of how long it has been stored.

elderflower cordial recipe

Learn More about Elderberry and Elderflower

Interested in learning more about Elderberry and Elderflower and what amazing things you can do with them? Check out some of our other articles:

  1. Propagating Elderberry in 10 Easy Steps
  2. Elderberry Syrup for Incredible Immune Support
  3. Elderflower Wine: The Delicious Essence of Summer


The Outdoor Apothecary website is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure proper plant identification and usage.

Please be aware that some plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is essential to consult with qualified professionals for verification of nutritional information, health benefits, and any potential risks associated with edible and medicinal plants mentioned on this website.

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