Elderflower Cordial

This is another recipe that brings me back to my childhood. My Mum and Granny have been making it for years. My most vivid memory of it is sitting in my Granny’s back garden with a big jug. She would add ice, sparkling water and very finely chopped chunks of lemon (skin on), which you could munch when you got to the bottom of your glass.

Nowadays, I often use it in cocktails. It tastes good as a mixer with most clear spirits, but my particular favourite is the ‘Hugo’ (which was all the rage in Zurich last summer). This is a combination of elderflower cordial, prosecco, sparkling water and mint. A delicious, light cocktail for the summer months:)

You will notice that this is one of the few of my recipes that includes a lot of sugar. You should remember that you only ever drink a tiny amount (mixed with water), and it should be considered a treat! It also freezes very well (as do the actual elderflowers), if you need a summery pick-me-up in the winter.

Be careful when picking elderflower. Always look up! There is a similar-looking flower that grows from the ground along roads in Ireland and Switzerland, but elderflower grows on trees. It has a very distinctive strong, sweet smell which you should sniff out for.



*Apologies for the strange quantities… My Mum still works in ounces and pounds, and these quantities fit perfectly into 2 litres, so I’m unwilling to tamper with them!

Elderflower Cordial

Makes 2 litres

2 bottles elderflower cordial


  • 1800g sugar
  • 950ml water
  • 6 lemons
  • citric acid to taste (you can buy this in pharmacies)
  • approx. 8 big heads of elderflower


  1. Zest and squeeze the lemons
  2. Put the sugar, water and lemon zest and juice in a big saucepan
  3. Leave to soak for a few hours – stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves (if it still hasn’t dissolved after a few hours add a little more lemon juice)
  4. When the sugar has dissolved, taste it and see if it is sharp enough. If it isn’t, add 1/2 tsp. of citric acid and taste again. Continue until you achieve desired tartness
  5. Put on the heat and bring to the boil
  6. Boil for about 1 minute
  7. Put in 8 heads of elderflower and leave until cool
  8. Strain and bottle using sterilised bottles (plastic if you want to freeze it)
  9. It will last for up to 6 months in the fridge, or 2 years in the freezer
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  1. Jackie Reade

    Hi Emma – well done on the blog! My recipe is slightly different, but I’m making (and drinking!) LOADS of it at the moment. J x

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