How to Make Elderflower Cordial

Four Parts:Making the CordialStraining and Bottling the CordialUsing Elderflower CordialHarvesting Elderflowers

Elderflower cordial is a tasty and delicately flavored concentrated syrup made with the flowers of the elder plant. The syrup is popular in England, where it’s added to drinks, baking, and teas. Elderflower cordial is also used to make cocktails and sodas, and a bottle of the homemade syrup also makes a great gift.


  • 30 elderflower heads
  • 6 cups (1.4 L) water
  • 4 cups (900 g) white sugar
  • 2 oz (50 g) citric acid
  • 2 oranges
  • 3 lemons

Part 1
Making the Cordial

  1. 1
    Gather your supplies. To make elderflower cordial, you do need freshly cut elderflowers. You can either harvest these on your own if they grow in your area, or you can find them at farmers markets, local farms, or specialty grocers. Because you'll be using the flowers for food, look for spray- or pesticide-free flowers. The supplies you'll need include:[1]
    • Large saucepan
    • Fruit zester
    • Sharp knife
    • Large heat-proof mixing bowl
    • Large bowl and funnel
    • Strainer
    • Cheese cloth
    • Bottles or mason jars (with lids) for storing
    • Scissors
    • Mixing spoon
    • Two clean tea towels
  2. Image titled Make Elderflower Cordial Step 2
    Heat the water and sugar. Pour the water and sugar into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Once that happens, increase the heat slightly and bring the mixture to a boil.[2]
    • Once the syrup boils, remove it from the heat. Set it aside to cool as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. 3
    Clean and trim the flowers. Use your fingers to pick out any insects, dirt, and dead flowers. You don’t want to wash the flowers, because washing will remove the pollen, which is where the flowers get most of their delicate flavor.[3]
    • Use the scissors to trim the stems off the flowers. The stems are actually poisonous and bitter, so remove as much of them as possible. A few stems in the mix won’t hurt you, but you really only want the flowers to make the cordial.[4]
    • Place the cleaned and trimmed flowers into the heat-proof mixing bowl.
  4. Image titled Make Elderflower Cordial Step 5
    Add the citrus to the flowers. Use the zester to remove the zest from one lemon and one orange. Add the zest into the bowl with the flowers.[5] Then cut all the lemons and oranges into slices and add them to the bowl as well. Sprinkle the citric acid over the mixture.
    • With your hands or a spoon, mix the flowers, zest, fruit slices, and citric acid together.
    • The citric acid serves as a preservative in this recipe.
  5. 5
    Add the syrup and steep. Pour the syrup over the fruit and citrus mixture and give it all a stir. Cover the bowl with the clean, dry tea towel and let it sit.
    • For the best results, let the cordial sit like this, covered and at room temperature, for 24 to 48 hours. This will give the syrup time to become infused with the flavors of the flowers and the citrus.[6]

Part 2
Straining and Bottling the Cordial

  1. Image titled Make Elderflower Cordial Step 6
    Strain the mixture. After one or two days, it’s time to strain the cordial. Position the strainer on top of a clean bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth. Pour in the cordial mixture, using the cheesecloth to strain out the flowers, zest, and fruit slices.[7]
    • Let the mixture drain through for a few minutes. You can also squeeze the fruit inside the cheesecloth to remove as much cordial as possible.
    • If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use a piece of muslin, a jelly bag, or a clean tea towel.
  2. 2
    Sterilize the jars. As the cordial drains through the cheesecloth, sterilize the jars to prepare them for bottling. To sterilize them, run the jars through the dishwasher and wash the lids by hand in hot, soapy water.[8] Let them cool before bottling the cordial.
    • To sterilize without a dishwasher, wash the bottles and lids by hand. Dry the bottles and leave the lids to air dry. Transfer the bottles to a roasting pan and bake them in a 320 F (160 C) oven for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.[9]
  3. 3
    Bottle the cordial. Once all the cordial has been strained from the fruit and flowers, you can bottle it or use it immediately. Use the funnel to pour the cordial into sterilized bottles or mason jars. Transfer the filled bottles to the refrigerator.
    • Homemade elderflower cordial will last for up to six weeks in the fridge.[10]

Part 3
Using Elderflower Cordial

  1. 1
    Make a soda. There are lots of ways you can enjoy elderflower cordial, and one of the simplest is to make a refreshing soda drink. Fill a large glass with ice water or chilled sparkling water, add 1 to 3 tablespoons (15 to 45 ml) of cordial and stir.[11]
    • You can also add elderflower cordial to lemonade, iced tea, and other drinks.
  2. Image titled Make Elderflower Cordial Step 7
    Freshen up alcoholic drinks. Add one tablespoon (15 ml) of cordial to a glass of champagne or sparkling wine to make a fresh summer drink.[12]
    • You can also add a dash of cordial to a shot of vodka or gin served on the rocks with water, or to any fruity or floral cocktail.
  3. 3
    Give fruit salad a floral hint. Flower and fruit flavors complement each other nicely, so you can add elderflower cordial to fruit salads to add some extra sweetness and a floral aroma.
    • When your fruit salad is ready, drizzle a bit of cordial over top and give it one final stir before serving.[13]
  4. 4
    Make floral ice. Next time you have to make ice, fill the ice cube tray with water, then pour the water into a bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of cordial, stir, and refill the ice cube trays.[14]
    • Freeze the ice and use in drinks, smoothies, and other concoctions.
  5. 5
    Change up your desserts. Next time you're baking a cake, making icing or frosting, or enjoying a bowl of ice cream, add a floral hint with elderflower cordial.
    • For cakes and icings, replace vanilla extract with cordial and add an extra tablespoon or two (15 to 30 ml) of cordial.
    • For ice cream, simply drizzle the cordial over the ice cream like you would with chocolate syrup.

Part 4
Harvesting Elderflowers

  1. 1
    Gather your equipment. You don’t need much to pick elderflowers, but you will need a sharp pair of scissors and a paper bag.
    • It’s best to store cut flowers in paper, because a paper bag will allow them to breathe.[15]
  2. 2
    Pick the right time. Elder plants tend to flower between mid-May and July, so late spring and early summer are your best bet for harvesting flowers for cordial.
    • It’s best to harvest elderflowers on bright, dry, sunny days, and preferably in the morning.[16]
  3. 3
    Select the right flowers. You want elderflowers that are ripe and ready to use, but not past their prime. Look for large flowers that are fully in bloom, and choose ones with the fewest dead or brown flowers.
    • Don’t use flowers that still have green buds.
  4. 4
    Cut off the flower heads. With your scissors, cut the stalks to separate the flower heads from the stems. Keep the flower heads upright to preserve the pollen, and gently place the flowers in the bag.[17]
    • Only take a few flower heads from each bush, and then move on to gather more from another bush. This leaves plenty of flowers for the plant itself and for other insects.
  5. 5
    Use the flowers immediately. Freshly cut flowers that are going to be used for cordial should be used within 24 hours to ensure freshness and maximum flavor.
    • Store the flowers in a cool, dry place until you're ready to use them.


  • To prepare a bottle of cordial for a gift, create a small card detailing the name and contents of the bottle and attach it to the neck with string or twine.

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Categories: Drinks