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The Most British Summer Drink - How to make an Elderflower Cordial

Yes, elderflower cordial is indeed a British classic. This refreshing and fragrant beverage has been a staple in British cuisine for centuries, especially during the spring and summer months when elderflowers are in bloom. Traditionally made from the flowers of the elderberry tree, elderflower cordial captures the essence of these delicate blossoms and is enjoyed for its light, floral flavor.

Elderflower cordial is often served diluted with water or sparkling water to create a refreshing drink. It's also used as a flavoring in various desserts, cocktails, and culinary dishes. The drink has a long history in British culture, being a popular homemade beverage in many households. Its enduring popularity and versatility make it a beloved classic in British culinary traditions.

Making elderflower cordial is a delightful process that captures the essence of spring and summer in a bottle. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create your own:


  • 20 elderflower heads (ensure they are freshly picked and free of insects)
  • 1.5 liters of water
  • 1.5 kg of granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons (preferably unwaxed)
  • 50 grams of citric acid (optional, but helps to preserve the cordial)


  • A large pot or saucepan
  • A fine sieve or muslin cloth
  • Bottles or jars for storing the cordial
  • A spoon for stirring
  • A measuring jug


  1. Pick and Prepare the Elderflowers:

    • Choose a dry, sunny day to pick the elderflowers as they are most fragrant then.
    • Shake the flowers gently to remove any insects and rinse them lightly if needed.
    • Remove as much of the green stalk as possible, leaving mainly the small white flowers.
  2. Boil the Water:

    • In a large pot, bring 1.5 liters of water to a boil.
  3. Dissolve the Sugar:

    • Once the water is boiling, add the granulated sugar.
    • Stir continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Prepare the Lemons:

    • While the sugar is dissolving, slice the lemons thinly.
    • Remove any seeds from the lemon slices.
  5. Mix the Ingredients:

    • Remove the pot from the heat once the sugar has dissolved.
    • Add the elderflower heads and lemon slices to the pot.
    • Stir in the citric acid if you are using it.
  6. Infuse the Cordial:

    • Cover the pot with a lid or a clean cloth.
    • Allow the mixture to infuse for at least 24 hours at room temperature.
    • Stir the mixture occasionally during this period.
  7. Strain the Cordial:

    • After 24 hours, strain the mixture through a fine sieve or muslin cloth into a clean container to remove the elderflowers and lemon slices.
  8. Bottle the Cordial:

    • Pour the strained cordial into sterilized bottles or jars.
    • Seal the bottles tightly.
  9. Store and Use:

    • Store the elderflower cordial in the refrigerator. It should keep for about 4-6 weeks.
    • For longer storage, you can freeze the cordial in ice cube trays and then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Classic Elderflower Drink: Dilute the cordial with still or sparkling water, adjusting to taste.
  • Cocktails: Use the cordial as a base for cocktails, like adding it to gin and tonic or mixing with champagne.
  • Desserts: Drizzle over cakes or use as a flavoring in desserts and ice creams.

Enjoy your homemade elderflower cordial!