Elderflower cordial - the real start of summer!


Long summer evenings, the sounds of buzzing bees and children playing outside, the smell of honeysuckle or the extra Bank Holiday. We all have something that says to us that the summer has begun, even if it’s not the weather!

For me, it’s the Elderflower bursting out of the hedgerows, with it’s beautiful white flowers like little clouds of deliciousness. The very essence of British summertime.

I was leaning over my neighbour’s fence one afternoon last week to give him some of my abundance of radishes and I noticed he had an elderflower hanging over his fence. Ten minutes later, I was in possession of a basket of elderflower heads, a recipe that has been followed for 40 years and a bottle of homemade cordial to try!


This year, I have so much going on, a double whammy of GCSE's and A Levels (my boys, not me!) and I didn't think I'd have time for making cordial this year. Well, until they started to ask for it and I remembered elderflower cordial is as easy to make as it is delicious! It turns out that it's a right of passage into summer for them too! 

This generations old recipe is as follows:

  • 3 lemons
  • 4 pints water
  • 3 lbs sugar
  • 20-25 elderflower heads
  • 3 oz citric or tartaric acid

Since I started making elderflower cordial about 7 years ago, I have been buying large packs of citric acid and using it to clean and descale kettles, luckily I still had some left!

The instructions were relatively simple:

  • Pick elderflowers when the sun is on them.
  • Squeeze lemons, then chop up skins and put in pan with sugar, dissolve and bring to the boil.
  • Add elderflower heads, citric acid and lemon juice.
  • Squeeze lemons and elderflower heads.
  • Leave in the pan for 24 hours
  • Strain and bottle when cool. Store in the refrigerator.

So after a relatively short time I had 2 and a half litres (I’m from the metric generation!) of delicious, fresh, summer tasting elderflower cordial.


Enjoy yours with cold fresh water or some fizzy water for a delicious homemade presse. Or of course you could add some to your favourite bottle of bubbly with mint and cucumber for a fantastic summer evening cocktail.

Perfect for a Jubilee picnic too! 🇬🇧