Elderflower Cordial (Memories from my Childhood)

It’s that time of year again when the Elder trees that surround our home and line the country roads are heavily laden with their sweet smelling flowers.  This is one of those scents that take me back to my childhood.  Days of taking the old second hand bicycle I had received for Christmas out of the shed and cycling to meet my friends for days spent fishing or playing in the fields after the farmers had made their hay.  We would play endlessly on the little square bales before they were taken away and stored in the Farmers’ haysheds – games of hide and seek, who could jump the highest and run the fastest from one side of the now grass-less fields to the other.  Days you only went home when it was either dark or you were hungry!!

Being the oldest of a family of ten, we were never short of playmates.  My friend then, who remains my best friend to this day, also came from a family of ten (although she was the second youngest) so there was always someone to hang out with.

Anyway, back to my Elderflower Cordial….

Elder Trees growing along our driveway – no air miles here!!

I don’t ever remember my Mam making this when we were children, but over the last few years as my love of growing my own and foraging in the hedgerows has developed, I have started to make this lovely refreshing Summer Drink.  My children absolutely love it and it never lasts more than a week in our house when made, so I don’t need to worry about preserving it.

It is best to pick your elderflower heads on a dry, sunny day.  They will be creamy white in colour and have a very distinctive sweet smell.  Try not to take any where the blossom has started to brown. You will know they are overripe and unsuitable if the aroma is a bit more pungent.


25 large Elderflower Heads (stalks trimmed)
1kg Granulated Sugar
50g Citric Acid (available from your local Pharmacy)
1.7 Litres of Water, Boiled
4 Lemons (quartered)


  1. Trim the stalks of all of your flower heads and check for little insects (don’t let this put you off as they will most definitely not finish up in your end product!)
  2. Select a large bowl capable of holding all of your ingredients – I use a stainless steel one
  3. Place the sugar in your bowl and pour over the boiled water.  Stir thoroughly until all of the sugar has dissolved and then allow to cool
  4. Add the citric acid, lemons and then the flower heads
  5. Stir briefly and then cover your bowl with a tea towel and leave in a cool place to infuse for 48 hours
  6. Strain through some muslin into sterilised bottles.
  7. Dilute to taste (The cordial is ready to drink straight away but will keep in your fridge for up to 6 weeks)
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All ingredients in and now the 48 hour wait!!

Serving Suggestions:

  • Add some cordial to sparkling water, lemon slices and ice cubes for a refreshing Summer drink
  • Add some to a glass of Prosecco to really get your party started – particularly lovely for Alfresco Dining!
  • Add a few tablespoons of undiluted cordial to a Lemon Sorbet for a refreshing twist
  • I also add some to my homemade Gooseberry Jam (Recipe to follow).  Gooseberry and Elderflower have a natural affinity with each other


  • If you plan to store some of your cordial (mine never lasts that long!!) then ensure your bottles are sterilised beforehand.  I run mine through a hot wash in the dishwasher but I’m sure anyone who has made preserves before will have their own method.
  • You can also pour some into freezer bags or ice cube trays and freeze until needed.
And enjoy…

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Bernie xx




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