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Fiona’s traditional elderflower cordial recipe

Phhoto of Elderflower blossoms for best cordial picked in bright sunshine

Photo: Elderflower blossoms in the sun - best picked for cordial

It’s elderflower cordial recipe season once again!
Yesterday afternoon I found myself up a tall ladder with a carrier bag, picking elderflower heads. I picked about fifty heads. They are best picked when the sun is on them. I climbed higher and higher to find exactly what I wanted. They had to be perfect with no trace of brown blossom. According to Joanna’s Food brown blossom can foul the cordial.

My sister brought a similar recipe back from France. Since I introduced Danny to elderflower and pink grapefruit cocktail, it seemed a good idea to make my own cordial tweaking the recipe to suit my taste.

There is a printable recipe card below the post!

There seem to be as many uses for elderflower cordial as recipes. Apart from adding a splash to fruit fools and pies, it can be added to a vinaigrette dressing, and apparently is delicious with chicken breasts. Determined to experiment I made double the quantity below. I poured my cordial into warm sterilised bottles and sealed them immediately with corks. They keep well in a cold area of the barn – we often are finishing the last bottle of cordial as the new flowers open on the trees. I also freeze some syrup, just in case.

Other elderflower recipes that my interest you:

Fiona’s Elderflower and Lemon cordial
 Judy’s Elderflower and Lime Jellies
Fiona’s Elderflower and Raspberry Jellies

Fiona’s traditional elderflower cordial recipe
Recipe Type: Cordials
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 48 hours
Total time: 48 hours 30 mins
Serves: 40
  • 1.5 litres of boiling water
  • 1 kilo of white granulated sugar
  • 20 large elderflower heads (if they are small, pick more)
  • 4 lemons
  • 55g of citric acid
  1. In a Pyrex 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) and the elderflower heads.
  3. Leave to steep for 48 hours.
  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)

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 bottles?
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.

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  1. Greengrocer had waxed lemons only. If I scrub them will they work for the elderflower cordial?

    • Kate Oliver

      I did the same. Just hot soapy water and a good scrub and rinse off. Seemed to work a treat !

  2. teresa watson

    Made some elderflower cordial earlier today, it had been steeping for 48 hours and oh my goodness it tasted just heavenly. Good with a splash of vodka or my homemade limoncello. Didn’t use citric acid but more lemons. Rather than waste the lemons, before I strained the cordial, I removed the lemons sliced them and made some elderflower and lemon marmalade. Win, win all round. I love hunter gathering and the stuff you can produce. Thanks for all the tips and stuff on Cottage Smallholder. I’m always telling friends to look here before anywhere else. Enjoy the glorious sunshine and stay safe.

  3. Emily Leeming

    Advice needed please. Due to family life my cordial has been sitting for 2 weeks. It’s made to nearly (non-boiling water used, with oranges and lemons) the same recipie as above X 4. I’ve made this for many years and it’s always wonderful. It’s now fizzing slightly and smells like its femermenting. Should I chuck it or can I make it into wine? If I can do I need to add/change do anything? I hate waste, I’d love to do something with it.

    Many Thanks

  4. Jane Bradford

    Could you please tell me how long the cordial lasts

    • D tulloch

      I bottle it in clean 500ml plastic (water) drinks bottles and freeze. Make sure to leave a good 3 or 4 cm gap to allow the liquid to expand.

      Just making mine now. Can’t wait! Nice to add a splash to gin n tonic!
      Just finished last year’s cordial. Delicious

      • Philippa

        Is this daphne? Its Philippa here( Lucy,s friend)- I’m making elderflower cordial too and like you I freeze it every year in plastic bottles with a good gap. Hope you are all well xxxx

  5. Ingrid Calder Graham

    Thank you…..

  6. Lon Johnson

    The cordial is fabulous whena small amount is poured into a glass of apple cider. Do try it

  7. Jenniflower

    How do you stop the elderflower cordial from clouding at the bottom of the bottles
    I use citric acid and tartaric acid
    I also sterilise the bottles

    • Steven Davies

      A Campden tablet will sort that out, i.e. Sodium metabisulphite, which is commonly used by winemakers to stop further bacterial activity following fermentation.

      • Jill Evans

        Where do you buy Campden tablets and what are they

  8. Robin cooke

    A brilliant summer drink….white wine, tonic, and elderflower cordial. A touch of gin makes it really serious.

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