Oh-So-British Elderflower Cordial

Every part of the hedgerow flourishing elder plant, native to the British Isles, has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates.  Anti-inflammatory and anti-viral, the elder’s bark, roots, flowers, and berries have been homeopathically employed in various capacities for centuries, including as a diuretic and energy revitalizer in post-natal women. 

However, herbalism aside, it simply wouldn’t be the British Summer without elderflower cordial – the elder’s delicate sprays of tender white flowers being so very ingrained in our cultural psyches.  What’s more, an elderflower cordial is incredibly easy to make (not to mention tasty to sip, too). 

Parched from Summer’s rising mercury?  Try your hand at the recipe below and quench that thirst; just go easy if you’re pregnant.  Otherwise, bottoms up (idiomatically speaking)!

Servings: Servings: 20 (dependent on thirst)
Cooking Time: Circa 25 hours


2 ½ kg white sugar (granulated or caster)
2 ¾ pints water
2 lemons, unwaxed
20 elderflower heads, fresh and stems trimmed
85g Just Natural citric acid (food grade)

How to Make it

  1. In a very large saucepan, heat the sugar and 2¾ pints of water. Be careful not to bring it to the boil, but instead heat gently only until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. In the meantime, peel the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler and slice the body of the lemons into rounds.
  3. Once the sugar has fully dissolved, then bring the saucepan of syrup to the boil and turn off the heat.
  4. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water and rinse the flowers in this to clean off dirt or bugs. Shake off the flowers when lifted out of the water.
  5. Add the flowers and the lemons, zest, and the citric acid to the syrup. Stir well and cover and set aside for 24 hrs.
  6. Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Place this over a large bowl or pan and ladle in the syrup.  Let it drip slowly through and do away with the remainders in the cloth.
  7. Funnel into sterilised bottles and enjoy.

NB: The cordial can be kept refrigerated for up to 6 weeks. It can also be frozen and defrosted as and when needed.