Alice Through The Year

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflowers soaking in their syrup solution with lemon peel and slices.
Elderflowers soaking in their syrup solution with lemon peel and slices.

As Spring draws to a close, our first sign of summer bursts into our hedgerows in the form of a fragrent floral spray, elderflower.

Home made elderflower cordial beats shop bought everytime! Once you have made a batch you will be wishing you had made more. It is very simple to make, only requiring a few ingredients for big results.

The one ingredient that might not be in your store cupboard already is Citric Acid - a natual product coming from citrus fruits (the name kind of gives it away). It is a fantastic product not only essential in making cordial but also a wonderful cleaning product. Use it to descale your kettle, washing machine and shower head. Back to the cordial... I have tried replacing the citric acid and using lemon juice, but you have to add so much lemon juice to combat the sweetness that it becomes lemon cordial instead.

You can buy citric acid online, I have used various brands but I am using this one at the moment and am happy with the results (also it's a very competitive price.)

Citric Acid on Amazon

If you have picked too many elderflowers don't be tempted to add more to the mixture as it can end up being too floral, I found this out to my downfall last year. The eldeflower heads freeze very well, pop them in a freezer bag, when you are ready to use them dunk them straght into the stock syrup WITHOUT defrosting.

Elderflower heads, lemon peel and slices.

Elderflowers are best picked on a dry day in the early morning, it is best not to pick them after a down pour as the pollen will have washed away.

Final note, don't be tempted to wash your elderflowers before using them as you will wash the pollen off, if there are any ants or other intruders just give it a little shake and remember you will strain them off later.


  • 20 Elderflower Heads.
  • 1.2 kg Granulated Sugar
  • 40g Cirtic Acid
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Liter of Water


  1. Boil the kettle, pour the water into 3-4 clean 500ml bottles. Place the lids on and set to one side.
  2. Trim off the main stalk of the elderflower. The stalks that are attached to the flowers are fine to keep on.
  3. Tip the sugar into a large pan, pour in 1 litre of cold water and place on a medium heat.
  4. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved (you can tell that it has dissolved as the syrup will be clearer and when stirring you won’t be able to feel any grainy crystals on the bottom of the pan).
  5. Whilst you are waiting for the sugar to dissolve, peel the lemon rind using a potato peeler then slice into strips, set to one side.
  6. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
  7. Add the citric acid, lemon peel and slices to the pan and stir. Then tip in the elderflowers and gently submerge them in the syrup.
  8. Cover the pan with a lid and set to one side for 12 hours.
  9. Place a sieve in a large bowl then cover the sieve with a muslin or tea towel, pour the elderflower syrup and the elderflowers over the muslin/tea towel.
  10. Bring the sides together and squeeze out any excess liquid. Discard the elderflower heads.
  11. Pour the water out of the bottles, then using a funnel pour in the cordial.
  12. Store in a cupboard for up to 6 months.
Alice picking elderflowers
Elderflowers are best picked in the morning before they have full explosure to the sun