Elderflower cordial

As I write I have a big pot of elderflower cordial steeping in the kitchen. This is now a regular early-June rite in our house. Last year I missed too much of the blossom and was gutted that by July I’d let it fall to the pavement in a carpet of fluff. So this year I’m going the opposite way and am going to make loads and freeze loads.

Topping the cordial up with sparkling water is the simplest – and maybe the best – use of these elderflowers. I also cook with it quite a bit. Maybe slugging a little into a gooseberry crumble or clafoutis. Or into madeleines by adding 2tsp of cordial to the basic recipe.

This recipe is from my friend, Paul. It’s his grandmothers from Guernsey’s way to make it. I love it and use it every year.

Rain can affect the elderflower’s flavour so try to pick on a dry day.


Elderflower Cordial – makes approx 1l

500g caster sugar

850ml boiling water

2 lemons

15 elderflower heads – shaken to get any little critters out

30g citric acid – ask the chemist for it

1. Prepare the lemons by slicing into quarters and running your thumb between the pith and the fruit to release the flesh. Cut the lemon chunks in half and add to a big pot with all the other ingredients.

2. Steep for 24 hours then strain it out through a fine sieve or muslin. Pour into sterilised 500ml bottles.

The cordial will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze for a couple of months (don’t fill the bottles right up if you’re freezing it).


PS – As well as the cordial I’m also going to make elderflower vinegar (as I wrote about recently for The Arbuturian) by just breaking up one large elderflower head into a smaller 250ml bottles then topping up with white wine vinegar. After a couple of weeks’ infusing time you get a lovely elderflower vinegar that is great added to mayonnaise or hollandaise, in a salad dressing, or when cooking mackerel.


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