Elderflower Cordial – Recipe


Well we’re only just over a week into the elderflower season here in the midlands and I have already made two batches of elderflower cordial. We drink it like water here at Loaf HQ, so I’m hoping to make up for the disappointment of last season when I’d bought all the required ingredients, only to go out for a walk  after a blisteringly hot weekend in July, and find all the flowers had turned over the weekend and begun their berry-growing stage.

For the first two batches, I’ve used Richard Maybe’s recipe from the classic wild food book Food for Free. I’ve expanded on the recipe a little and altered the quantities so it makes around 2 litres. I doubled this recipe with some school children this week and it made just under 4 litres.

Ingredients (for 2 litres of cordial):

1.15 litres of water
1.5kg granulated sugar
2 unwaxed organic lemons
15-20 elderflower heads (picked on a sunny day)
35g citric acid



Boil the water in a pan, remove from the heat, and then stir in the sugar  until dissolved. Set aside to cool to blood temperature. Meanwhile pick any bugs from the eldeflower heads and discard any that are badly infested. place them into a deep bowl, bucket or pan. Zest the lemons and add to the elderflowers, along with the remaining lemons, sliced, and the citric acid. Pour the sugar syrup over the elderflowers, lemon and citric acid, cover it, and leave to steep for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 24 hours steeping, strain the liquid through a jelly bag or muslin cloth into a large clean bowl, and from here, through a funnel into sterlised bottles.

Some thoughts

Allowing the syrup to cool to blood temperature before adding it to the elderflowers should lead to a more delicate flavour and colour than adding it when it’s just boiled. However the low temperature won’t kill the natural yeasts on the eldeflowers, so the keeping quality is lessened – the yeast may start fermenting the liquid leading to an alcoholic and fizzy liquor, and possibly exploding bottles! So if you want to store it for more than a month or two, add the liquid when it’s just boiled, or freeze the above recipe when it’s in bottles (leaving an air gap for expansion when freezing).

Next weekend – elderflower champagne!


11 thoughts on “Elderflower Cordial – Recipe

  1. Thanks for reminder it’s that time of year. This is the recipe we always use – it’s a good one. Fantastic getting children involved in making something like this.

  2. ..lovely, but where do you get Citric acid from nowadays, the chemists seem to have stopped stocking it..

  3. It’s not easy to find in Chemist – I bought mine at – it’s not what you think it might be!!

  4. I’ve been struggling to find citric acid as well. One pharmacist even asked me what Elderflowers were! I then remembered this great place in Hall Green who have told me that they do stock various quantities:
    Brew Genie
    23 Redstone Farm Road, Hall Green, B28 9NU

  5. Yes, I’ve heard about that place in Hall Green, been meaning to check it out for a while. Just bought another 500g of citric acid online.

  6. I’ve just bottled up two lots of elderflower cordial. The first lot made the Pam Corbin recipe, where you cover the flowers and fruit in boiling water and steep, and the second similar to the way you describe here. Very different looking cordials. However, we then put both lots in a waterbath and simmered at 88 C for 20 minutes; the theory being that this will help preserve them. Have to say this is the first time I’ve ever made this, so will be interesting to see if they explode or not! The paler one looks much nicer I agree.

  7. you can get citric acid from wilkinsons, they have some surprisingly useful things in their homebrew section. it doesn’t come in large quantities, but its a useful source if you aren’t managing to find it elsewhere

  8. I find citric acid a lot in Chinese / Asian shops, in the bullring markets/china town Lady pool road made by East end products (royal blue packet)

  9. I find citric acid a lot in Chinese shops, in the bullring markets/china town Balti shops Lady pool road made by East end products (royal blue packet) £1 a packet!!!

  10. I have just done 13 bottles of elerflower champagne and 6 of cordial with exploding bottles. This must be due to the fact that i used more elderflowers than the recipe said and as there is a large amount of natural yeast in the flowers this must be the reason i am now trying again and will keep you posted
    Has anyone else found this?
    I would love to hear your comments
    Love Countrychicgirl

  11. My cordial exploded (4 x1ltr Kilner bottles) about 16hrs after it was bottled. I left it steeping too long and probably put too many flower heads in. Last years brew
    was fantastic.

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