Elderflower cordial

Elderflower cordial

Elderflower cordial is a wonderfully refreshing, non-alcoholic summer drink that is easy to make at home (provided, of course, you have access to fresh elderflowers!) Unlike most purchased sodas, it doesn’t contain any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

Fortunately, elder trees are common here; in fact, the elderflowers for this cordial were collected from the back of our allotment!

The cordial is a concentrate that is diluted with water when serving. How much water you add is personal preference, we typically use about one part cordial to five or six parts water. Either still or sparkling water can be used, though it is especially nice with sparkling water.

This recipe is from my FIL’s brother’s wife, Anna.

British       American
900g   granulated sugar   2 pounds
850ml (1-1/2 UK pints)   water   3-2/3 cups
1   lemon   1
45g   citric acid   1-1/2 ounces
20   elderflower heads   20

1. First collect the elderflowers. You can cut the elderflower heads off, but the disadvantage to this is that you reduce the number of elderberries later in the season. A better way is to collect the elderflowers directly from the trees. Choose heads whose flowers have fully opened, but have not yet begun to turn brown. With one hand, hold a collecting container under the flower head (I used a jug, as having a handle made it easier), then with the other hand, gently pull the flower petals off into the container. I’ve discovered that the flowers are easiest to collect from elderflower heads that are fully open, if you choose heads whose flowers are not all fully open, the petals don’t come off easily. The flower petals from twenty elderflower heads will be around 500ml dry measure.

2. Zest the lemon and set zest aside. Cut white pith from around the lemon and discard. Cut lemon in half lengthwise and thinly slice.

3. Boil the water, and dissolve the sugar in it. In a large heat-proof glass or ceramic bowl, combine the sugar water with the elderflowers, lemon zest and slices, and citric acid. When cool, cover with cloth or cling film.

4. Stir daily with wooden or plastic spoon for four to five days.

5. Strain through a colander lined with muslin, and transfer to sterilised heavy glass bottles. (Sterilise bottles by swishing with boiling water, but make certain bottles are heavy glass or they may break.) Store in a cool place. Once opened, keep in fridge.

6. To serve, dilute with water to taste.

Makes about 1-1/4 litres (42 ounces), enough to make about 7-1/2 to 9 litres (8 to 9-1/2 US quarts) of prepared beverage.


  1. Mmmm looks and sounds so refreshing. I’d definitely drink this with sparkling water and LOTS of ice-cubes.
    I made Bryanna’s mock duck recipe the other. AND WOWZERS!! It was delicious. Have you ever had Braised Tofu made by Marigold? It tasted JUST like that!
    It was FAB!

  2. I haven’t tried Marigold’s braised tofu, though I’ve seen it. I’ll have to try Bryanna’s mock duck again… it’s been years since I last made it, but I remember it being deelish. Do you have piccies of your mock duck experience? mmm, I’m hungry now…

  3. Beautiful!!

  4. I really like that bottle! I can never find anything like that around here.

  5. I have pictures of the whole process actually! I’ll blog about it in the next couple of days.

  6. Jeni — looking forward to it 🙂

    Dia — the bottle is from Ikea, they’re £2.38 each. But even better, Sainsburys currently has Il Casolare Olive Oil in a similar 1 litre bottle with a stopper on special offer for £4.32… considering how expensive olive oil is (and how expensive the bottles are to buy empty!), this is a great price.

  7. Interesting…looks very very refreshing!

  8. I have been looking for this site for weeks now. I came across it and then I did not save it.
    This beverage looks good.

  9. On the lookout for elder flowers.

  10. Hi there Felicity!

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I am currently working on a neighborhood harvest guide for residents of Oakland/ San Francisco, California, and I am wondering if I might be able to use the above image and recipe in the neighborhood guide. I would, of course, give credit to ThiftyLiving.net. You can email me directly with a response, and you can also learn more about the project I am completing by visiting the above blog address.

  11. Hi

    We are a small company in South Devon, UK selling bottles and jars in small or large quantities. I was wondering if I could use your Elderflower cordial recipe on my website as it looks lovely, and maybe inspire people to buy our swing top bottles for their own use.

    I would be quite happy to back link our site with yours in return.

    Let me know your thoughts. Your other recipe’s look great too!

    Kind regards


    • Hi Debbie,

      Yes, no problem with using my recipe (and photo, if you like) on your website. Good luck with your business!

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