Elderflower cordial in a swing top bottle

Recipe: Homemade elderflower cordial

I’ve been desperate to pick elderflowers and it feels like it’s taken ages for them to bloom this year. On Wednesday they were finally ready and we picked ours from a bush growing near where we live. Most of them were high up which mean’t our faces and hair got covered in pollen, making it very sneezy work.

Wet elderflowers vs dry elderflowers

Last year we picked wet blooms, which we later found out is a no-no because it reduces the flavour. Despite this, our cordial was still tasty. This year we picked dry blooms that had been warmed by the sun and they smelt amazing. So much more fragrant than the wet blooms. I left them on the windowsill for a while (for the bugs to drop out) and the whole flat smelt of elderflower. I will always pick dry blooms from now on.

Homemade elderflower cordial recipe

My previous batch of cordial was delicious so I’ve used the River Cottage recipe again. Here’s how to make it.

  • 25 flower heads
  • 3 lemons (zest and juice)
  • 1 orange (zest and juice)
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1.5 litres of water
1. Pick elderflowers

Choose heads with a creamy white appearance, healthy flowers and lots of fragrance.

Creamy elderflower blooms
Freshly picked elderflower
2. Soak in a bowl overnight

Arrange the elderflower in a bowl (I like to leave the stalks sticking up out of the water), pour hot water over them, cover and allow to soak overnight.

Elderflower heads in bowl
Soaking elderflowers
3. Uncover

The next day, the mixture will be golden and floral.

Soaking elderflower heads
Elderflower juice
4. Strain

If you don’t have muslin you can line a colander with a clean tea towel. I pour boiling water through the tea towel before use, to make sure it’s as clean as possible.

Tea towel in colander
Boiling water draining through tea towel

Pour the mixture into the lined colander and once drained, give it a squeeze to get all the juice out.

Golden elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial
5. Add fruit zest and juice

Add the zest and juice of 3 lemons and 1 orange. The first time I made this cordial I misread the instructions and did this bit the day before. If you accidentally do the same, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.

Squeezed lemons and oranges

6. Add sugar, heat and bottle

Add sugar to the pan, heat gently and then pour into sterilised bottle using a funnel. It is important to sterilise the bottles properly or your cordial will go mouldy very quickly.

Bottling elderflower cordial with a funnel
Swing top bottles
7. Seal and cool

Seal the bottle and allow to cool. I like to leave the cordial for a couple of days after bottling to allow the flavour to develop.

Elderflower cordial in a swing top bottle

The colour this year is much paler than last years and the dry elderflowers have made a big difference to the taste. It can be diluted with water or carbonated water and is also tasty drizzled on cereal, fruit or made into elderflower jelly.

We like drinking ours with crushed mint leaves on warm days. Bring on the sunshine!

6 comments on “Recipe: Homemade elderflower cordial

  1. I’m planning on freezing my cordial straight away to use throughout the year, I presume I can do this?
    Ps thank you for your blog, it’s very helpful x

    • Gemma Evans

      Freezing it is something I haven’t tried yet but I think it work well. And it’ll save you having to drink all that cordial so quickly 🙂

  2. Sarah Harris

    Hi, how long does the cordial normally last? As I’ve ended up making more than I thought I would!

    • Gemma Evans

      If the cordial is kept in the fridge, it should last up to 3 months. You could use some to make cordial if you have too much.

  3. Dawn Calderbank

    Thank you so much for saying that you misread the recipe too! I did as well and have been looking for advice on whether it’s ok!

    • Gemma Evans

      The cordial still tasted lovely even though I made a mistake 😊 Hope yours is delicious!

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