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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.

  Leave a reply


  1. I did your recipe last year and it keeps in the fridge (glass bottle) very well but I also made some with the pink elderflowerlooks really good and with bubbly makes a fantactic celebration drink.
    So easy to make thank you.

  2. Jennifer

    Just off down the river for this years supply of Elderflower. I ran out about February this year. I buy ultra cheap water in small bottles, use the water, sterilise the bottles and use those. They freeze brill.

  3. liz alderson of pirin adventures

    Hi Fiona, I use your recipe every year, its great. The question some had about which is the best tree, my approach is if it smells good (because some of them don’t) then I pick it. I don’t pick the whole lot off one tree but move around to get a mixed flavour I cherry pick so its leaves some of the bees and for berries later on in the season.

  4. Caroline

    I’m making cordial this year with a mix of wild and ornamental flowers. It’s coming out a lovely pink colour and just as tasty as the pure wild variety.

  5. Lesley

    Will be trying your recipe this morning in France but in UK I have the pink Elderflower and it makes a really nice cocktail with bubbly for the evening,
    I forgot to put recipe in when coming out here so thought I’d try yours
    Looks simple will let you know how it goes thanks.

  6. Hey Bebe,

    if you have access to a local shop that sells wine making/home brew equipment, you should be able to get hold of “Campden tablets”

    These are normally used when you want to stop fermentation in wines, so they should help you in keeping cordial safe 😉

  7. My elderflower keeps fermenting after I have put it in the bottle. I have sterilized everything well but it keeps happening. Can I kill the yeast that is causing this to happen somehow? I have 12 bottles of Elderflower cordial that I have made….can I save them? It really is not practical to freese them all.

  8. fred fisher

    I made elder flower cordial using the recommended lemon ingredients it tasted like lemon and no flavour of elder flower is it possible to make it without lemon

  9. i like elderflower cordial added to gin and some fizzy lime and lemon water. seems to make the summers last longer.

  10. Hi Patti, it’s probly too late, but I think you’d be better off trying again next year. I think if as you say, you put in LOTS of lemon, adding citric acid won’t fix the taste and right now you seem to have something that’s at least palatable… but don’t feel badly, this is the fun of home made efforts like this… each experiment leads to a better one next time!

    what I’m wondering about that I didn’t see anyone address, is what if you pick the flowers on a sunny day, but life gets in the way, are there any methods for “keeping” them for a day or two before making the recipe?

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