Elderflower Cordial

The Elderberry flowers are distinctly white, they are best picked end of May to middle of June in the mornings.

The smell of elderflower cordial is a certainly a sign that summer is here. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that we have had an elderberry brush in the garden and for the last 3 years it has gone unnoticed. It was actually my 9 year old son who pointed it out to me after learning about the plant at school and suggested making elderflower cordial, why not? It could be quite fun!

Elderflower cordial has been made since the Victorian era so I should be able to manage it. It also has apparently good anti-inflammatory properties so forgetting the huge sugar content in the recipe it might actually be good for you too!

I looked up the method for making it and saw it was actually quite straightforward. I ordered some citric acid which acts as the preservative but ended up getting a huge tub of it! Partly so that I didn’t have to buy a non-recyclable plastic sachet with a small amount and the tub looked like it might be have a re-use (that’s after making gallons of cordial that is!).

Huge tub of Citric Acid (recipe only needs 85g)

To make 3 litres of elderflower cordial:


  • 20-30 elderflower heads
  • 1.3 kg granulated sugar
  • 3 litres water
  • 3 lemons (sliced)
  • 85g citric acid


  1. Pick 20-30 elderflower heads (the one’s with buds are best)
  2. Carefully rinse the heads, remove stalks whilst checking for bugs
  3. Dissolve 1.3kg of sugar into 3 litres boiling water to make a syrup
  4. Allow to cool completely
  5. Add the elderflowers, sliced lemons and 85g citric acid to the syrup
  6. Leave to steep for 48 hours, stirring occasionally
  7. Filter the mixture through a muslin lined sieve
  8. Using a funnel pour into sterilized glass bottles
  9. Dilute to taste, keeps for 3-4 weeks in the fridge
Add the flowers, sliced lemons and citric acid to the syrup and leave to steep for 48 hours.

I bottled the cordail in glass Kilner bottles with a flip lid, sterilising them with boiling water and leaving them to air dry in the oven at a low temperature. Using glasss bottles is a good option as they are both reusable and recyclable too.

I added a little label like all the little eco gifts, my vision of inspiring sustainability, I’ve included some information about how to make it again and a picture the elderberry plant on the other side.

Diluted with sparking water, the cordial tastes pretty good! It would definitely be a welcome gift at any social distancing BBQ this summer. The cordial itself will last for 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

Tip! You can freeze it in ice cube trays and then you can enjoy it whenever you want.

I have left enough flowers on the plant to make another batch this year, although they look like they might only be around for a few more weeks. The flowers grow wild too in hedgerows so if you want to have a go then there’s a small window of opportunity!

The finished gift!

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