The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Elderflower recipes from Cottage Smallholder

elderflowers and old glass jars

Elderflowers and old glass jars

I’m going to be busy making elderflower champagne this weekend. I’m a virgin elderflower champagne maker so I’m excited by the prospect.

We used to have an enormous elderflower tree to the south side of the cottage. Unfortunately it died a couple of winters ago but luckily for us, this giant tree left prodgeny. So we have enough blooms to make our elderflower and elderflower and lemon cordials. The latter is much more of an adult drink and gets the thumbs up from anyone who samples it.

As elderflower champagne is a new venture for me I thought that I’d take the opportunity to show you how I develop my own recipes. I know that this blog is packed with loads of my recipes but I don’t just wake in the night and jot down a recipe that has been dictated in my dreams. No, my recipes are generally the result of curiosity, tweaking and trial and error.

Generally I start out with a couple of recipes from tried and tested sources. On the elderflower champagne front I’ve chosen two sources. Hugh Fearnley Whitenstall and Andy Hamilton. The former because I have a very soft spot for HFW and his recipes are tried and tested. Andy Hamilton’s recipes just work and he does a lot of valuable research. Incidentaly Andy Hamilton’s Booze for Free is an excellent present for foragers and foodies who like a tipple.

Andy’s recipe doesn’t come from his book – I found it online here. This recipe appeals to me as you can use it either to make elderflower wine or turn it into elderflower champagne at a later stage. I love procrastination.

HFW’s recipe – also found online here – uses a pinch of dried yeast if necessary – so is relying on the wild yeast in the elderflowers. Wild yeast? Exciting stuff.

Of course in the fullness of time I’ll report back on the results and then it may be time to tweak and experiment.

Here are links to all our own elderflower recipes:

Traditional elderflower cordial
Elderflower and lemon cordial
Elderflower and lime jellies
Elderflower and raspberry jellies
Elderflower vodka liqueur. NB Initially I hated this but when I added fresh gooseberries and let them steep for three months the result was superb, a gooseberry liqueur with a subtle elderflower buzz. So I’ll be making it again this year and trying it with fresh strawberries too.
Angela’s elderflower champagne

A few ideas for using your elderflower cordial:
Non alchoholic Elderflower and pink grapefruit cocktail
Pork chops with tarragon and elderflower cordial

Put a small dash of cordial in a fresh fruit salad, a cranberry and clentine sauce, stewed rhubarb or a fruit fool.
I also use elderflower cordial and fizzy water inside of tonic water in a gin or vodka cocktail.

Any other ideas on uses for elderflower cordial as a cooking ingredient would be greatly appreciated.


  Leave a reply


  1. Claire

    The ashridge trees website has a really good cordial recipe on it – not as sweet as some of the others. Going to try their champagne for the first time this year too.

  2. janerowena

    Elderflower sorbet is delicious – there are quite a few recipes on the internet for making it from cordial, but I used to make it from scratch, however I can’t find the recipe! It involves steeping the heads overnight in water for fresh flowers, and in boiling water for dried, so you are better off using your homemade cordial, I think.

  3. bobquail

    I picked a bag of elderflowers earlier this week and they’re sitting in the freezer until I have time to start making my semi-regular batch of elderflower fizz. I make an elderflower infused white wine and then re-ferment, similar to Andy Hamilton’s recipe but I use a carton of white grape juice as the base.

    My plan this year is to make 2 batches: one with bakers yeast (which is what I normally do) and another using proper champagne yeast, to see if there is any difference in the taste.

  4. Angela Connolly

    I have been making Elderflower ‘Champagne’ now for years, without explosions, or letting off the ‘gas’,just make it, forget about it for a week or more, and then enjoy ice cold from the fridge (or if you are one of those fortunate ladies or gentlemen ( the larder, with the cold slab stones for shelves) here are my top tips and , of course ..the ingredients:

    1. Pick the Elderflowers before 11 am, very important !!!!!
    After 11 am the scent is faintly….. eau de cat pee

    2. Use plastic bottles,when you decant, preferably ones that have contained fizzy drinks, as they are well used to ‘gas’ inside them, and will not explode.

    3.Stir the mixture 3 times a day, at least

    4. After 3 or 4 days,or even 5 or 6, depending on the weather, you will see and hear fizz on top of the mixture !! Now bottle.
    Do not bottle before this, or your efforts will all have been futile!
    5. LEAVE A SPACE at the top, of the bottle, for air.

    10 Elderflower heads ( side plate size)
    5 litres Spring or Well Water
    Juice of half Lemon
    125 mls Cider Vinegar
    600 grms Sugar

    Good Luck……… and don’t forget to ‘Ask’ your Elder Flower Tree permission to take her flowers !!!!

  5. Jackie

    My top tip, and it may not be fashionable this weekend! Is do make sure you gather elderflowers with the sun on them, hot and dry, as damp and musty elderflowers do not make good wine or cordial.
    My elderflower has been among my favourite wines – light and refreshing, yet heady! Elderflower champagne is a different thing – lovely and fizzy and joyful. Our favourite is elderflower cordial, with fizzy water, you can’t beat it!

  6. Terrier

    Good luck Fiona. I made some last year and put in in an airlocked demijohn for a couple of weeks till the ferment died down a bit. Thewn used plastic 3 litre fizzy drink bottles, I needed to open them nearly every day, but never had an explosion thank goodness. However I have to say, once ready I wasn’t over enamoured by the taste, it was pleasant, but I won’t be bothering again this year, will save the flowers hoping they turn in to berries

  7. Thrifty Household

    Elderflower champagne is wonderful! My top tip for the bottling, is to use the plastic dimpled bottles that fizzy drinks are sold in. Each week, unscrew the caps slightly to let out some ‘fizz’, then re-screw in place. Since switching to this method I’ve never had any of the very messy elderflower explosions that I did when using glass bottles.
    On the fresh yeast front- I’m sure you’ll be fine, I’ve been making the elderflower champagne for years & have never resorted to using dried yeast…

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Thrifty Household

      Thanks for the tips. I drink lots of cheap fizzy water so there are plenty of bottles to hand. Good news about the yeast too 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,241,084 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2023 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder