It’s elderflower season, that short moment in time during late spring/early summer when hedgerows, parks and alleyways are suddenly overflowing with the stuff.

While some people are more adventurous and use the white sprays to scent jellies and panna cottas, or deep fry the flowers in tempura, purists will know, you’ve gotta make cordial.

The thing is, you can’t buy elderflower heads at the supermarket, you’ve got to go out and find them. You’re looking for the fluffiest, whitest sprays that really carry that elderflower smell (sweet but strangely musky). Don’t pick ones too near the ground (dogs might have been at them), or that are by really busy roads, as the flavour may be affected by pollution.

Elderflower
Ella’s foraged elderflower haul (Ella Walker/PA)
Two glasses of elderflower lemonade and bottle of homemade syrup, top view
Print Recipe

Elderflower cordial

The quintessential summer cordial
Prep Time20 mins
Infuse time1 d
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Servings: 1 litres

Equipment

  • 2 sterilised glass bottles
  • Large pan or bucket (a jam pan is perfect)
  • Muslin
  • Funnel

Ingredients

  • 1 litre boiling water
  • 1 kg white granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 large unwaxed lemons (or 3 medium sized ones)
  • 15 - 20 elderflower heads
  • Sparkling water, to serve

Method

  • Put the sugar in a large pan or bucket (a jam pan is perfect).
    Elderflower cordial making sugar
  • Add the boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
    Elderflower cordial syrup
  • Grate the zest of the lemons into the pan.
    Grate lemon jest
  • Pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice and stir.
    Lemon juice
  • Shake the elderflower heads free of any insects, and submerge them in the sugar syrup.
    Elderflower heads
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave to cool and infuse for 24-48 hours. Stir every now and again.
    Making elderflower cordial allowing it to steep
  • Strain the liquid through muslin (cheesecloth, tea towels or even kitchen paper will work) and funnel into your sterilised bottles.
    Straining elderflower cordial
  • Store in the fridge for up to six weeks. Serve with chilled sparkling water.
    Bottled elderflower cordlal

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