The Cottage Smallholder

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Fiona’s Elderflower and lemon cordial recipe

Photo: Lemon and Elderflower cordial

Photo: Lemon and Elderflower cordial

I love drinking citron pressé on a hot summer’s day. This is the juice of half a large fresh lemon, topped up with caster sugar and ice cold water. I discovered this drink on holiday in Brittany when I was nine years old and have enjoyed it ever since.

So this year I thought it would be fun to make an Elderflower cordial with a distinct lemon kick. I’ve just finished bottling it. The result was a zingy grown up cordial that balances tangy lemon with the fragrant buzz of elderflowers. Delicious with iced water (my first teetotal sampling) and even better with a tot of vodka and a large splash of chilled fizzy water. The final combination is so good that I think that I might have to put the cordial in the barn safely out of harms way. Forget tonic water – this combination is a real winner, works out much cheaper than buying tonic and reduces the need for a slice of lemon. A lot of ice is essential.

I have used weights of ingredients as lemons and flower heads can vary enormously in size. I bought the citric acid on line. This recipe made three 75cl bottles and four 50cl bottles. Generally I cork my bottles so as to avoid the danger of exploding glass. I also store them in a cool place.

If you are looking for a more traditional version our traditional Elderflower cordial recipe is excellent.

Tips and tricks:

  • How do I sterilise a jelly bag or muslin square?
    Both can be scalded with boiling water. If you are using a clean muslin bag or square you can iron them with a hot iron. This also works with tea cloths.
  • How do I sterilise glass bottles and jars?
    The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the syrup, I quickly wash and rinse the bottles and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c (140c fan-assisted). When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The bottles will stay warm for quite a while. Sterilise the lids by boiling these for a few minutes in water.


Fiona’s Elderflower and lemon cordial recipe
Recipe Type: Cordial
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 48 hours
Total time: 48 hours 30 mins
Serves: 50
The people that taste this like it better than plain elderflower cordial!
  • 300g of elderflower heads (all but the tiniest stems removed). This was 50 medium and small heads from our tree.
  • 750g of chunky lemons (I bought five)
  • 2 kilos of white granulated sugar
  • 3 litres of boiling water
  • 110g of citric acid
  1. In a large heatproof bowl (or deep saucepan) pour the boiling water onto the sugar and stir. Leave to cool, stirring every now and then to dissolve the sugar.
  2. When cool add the citric acid, the lemons (zested and sliced – not squeezed) and the elderflower heads.
  3. Leave to steep for 48 hours in a fridge or a really cool place.
  4. Strain twice through sterilised muslin (how do I sterilise muslin? See Tips and tricks below)
  5. Using a jug and funnel carefully pour into hot sterilised bottles (how do I sterilise bottles? See Tips and tricks below)

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  1. paul - clitheroe , lancashire

    just made elderflower cordial tastes better than it looks 400grams of flowers , two lemons sliced, two kilogram of sugar , four litres of water .
    boiled the water added the sugar, added the lemons sliced, then the flowers boiled for half an hour and set it a side to cool overnight added citric acid and let it stand for 48 hours then decanted into bottles sealed with corks then dipped in paraffin wax to seal the bottle………

  2. I’ve already made loads of cordial this year using a similar recipe. However, now it’s elderBERRY time and I don’t know what to do with them?? There must be something other than wine. I had planned to use some for dyeing but apparently it isn’t very light fast. Suggestions for anything else?

  3. Hey, how long does the cordial last for?

  4. 60 Going On 16

    Thank you so much for the 2009 version – even better than last year’s and that was pretty good. Perfect for what has turned out to be a bumper crop of the sweetest fragranced elderflowers for years here in Mid-Devon. Gathered and made with big, fat, juicy organic Fairtrade lemons on Sunday, bottled today and first sampling just enjoyed but with a splash of gin rather than vodka. Heaven in a glass. I’m about to move to the Chilterns (and a south-facing allotment), so am keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll find equally good elder bushes where I’m going – just a bit of forward planning, you understand!

  5. That sounds lovely! The elderflowers here in the Austrian countryside are almost all done already. When they were at their peak, I dipped them in pancake batter and fried them up until they were golden on the outside, fluffy on the inside, holding them by the stems. Sprinkled with powdered sugar and had a tasty snack! Delicious. Here’s a link to a picture of it:
    Will try out your recipe next year!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Ruthdigs

    Well worth the trip. Hope that you find some very fresh heads. Discard any with brown blossom as this will foul the cordial.

    Hi Joanna

    Poor you. Elderflowers are the best for making a zingy cordial.

    Hello Veronica

    No I wasn’t a sophisticated nine year old – just have always loved the taste of fresh lemon.

    Your cordial sounds great ?

    I’m very into grown up cordials ATM so will check out your site

    Hi Toffeeapple

    The elderberries are good for wine too!

    You can’t beat Elderflower cordial/wine. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. Toffeeapple

    There are so many Elderflowers here this year, usually I wait for the berries, to make jelly and cough syrup but I think I shall be out with my basket on Saturday – it’s supposed to be sunny too. Thank you for a very timely posting.

  8. Veronica

    What a very sophisticated 9-year-old you were 🙂

    I have been making cordials, but not with elderflowers. The most recent was lemon and ginger, and it was really delicious topped up with chilled fizzy water. I might consider adding a spot of gin next time 🙂 These cordials are so easy to make, and are a great non-alcoholic alternative for parties.

  9. Joanna

    First find Elderflowers! We used to have one at the top of our garden in Derbyshire but I was most disappointed to find there are none here in Latvia. I guess I could do something with Lime Tree flowers or Meadowsweet, but Elderflowers -no! it was rather nice as well.

  10. Ruthdigs

    Ooh – this sounds very good. Right – I’m off hunting elderflowers tonight then, and stocking up on vodka! 😉
    You can get citric acid in brewing shops too.

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