Last Minute Recipe for Elderflower Cordial

Cathy Ashley
Friday, 17th June 2011

The hot weather this spring prompted the elder to flower earlier than usual, but if you are very quick you can still dash out this weekend with bucket and some secateurs to make a last minute batch of syrup that will sweeten drinks from water to even champagne, as a Kir Royal cocktail.

This elderflower cordial is quick and easy to make and will preserve this gorgeous taste of early summer for months to come.

You will need:

  • 2 consecutive days with a spare half hour
  • Clean plastic bucket (or similar)
  • Elderflowers - up to a bucket full
  • Preserving pan or extra large saucepan
  • Sieve
  • Jug
  • 1 lemon (or other citrus)
  • 2 or 3 jars of honey (about 2lb, runny is easiest)
  • 5 pint bottles (or a batch of jars would do)
  • Cider vinegar – just a dash

Day 1:

Pick as many elderflowers as you can (although it isn't critical - you can just dilute the cordial more or less as required);

Boil 5 pints of water and pour over to soak the elderflowers;

Add the juice and zest of a lemon (or lime, orange or grapefruit);

Cover, and leave it overnight to steep.

Day 2:

Place the sieve over the preserving pan and tip the liquid through;

Put it on the heat, emptying in the jars of honey as it gets warm enough to rinse them out with the liquid;

Wash the bottles with hot water and then rinse each one, and the jug, with a dash of cider vinegar;

When the cordial reaches the boil, bail it out with the jug and pour it into the bottles. Put lids on immediately.

Storage and use:

Dilute to taste - about 1/2" at the bottom of a glass, topped up with still or sparkling water. Unopened it should keep for a year at least, providing the bottles were clean.* Ideally you would use bottles with either wired lids or corks in case it ferments and explodes, but I have never known it actually to do this. The only time it ferments is when it has been opened, so use it quickly.

Cathy Ashley has created a suburban permaculture plot in Totnes, and recently started a regular blog at

* A note on sterilising: After washing the jars/bottles and lids, preheat the oven to 160ºC (no higher!) and boil a kettle. Making sure that the jars aren't touching each other, put them into the oven for 20 minutes. Pour boiling water over the lids instead as these often have plastic or rubber films on them which you wouldn't want to heat in the oven.

A Tip from Green Shopping: If you're interested in preserving little bits of summer that you can nibble or sip later on in the year, take a look at PRESERVED - a book packed full of practical information and delicious recipes.

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Mon, 06/08/2018 - 05:57