I’d never heard of Elderflowers until I moved to England.  (Then again,  I didn’t pay much attention to plants in general until a few years ago.)

But elderflowers, along with strawberries & cream, Pimms and picnics are an essential of the Great British Summer.

Once you know what they look like, Elderflowers are really easy to spot.  They emerge in big white frothy bundles on elder trees during early summer – and later in the autum the trees are covered in sprays of dark purple berries.

Be on the lookout for an elder tree near you, because this stuff is seriously good medicine (and good eating.)  Elder is used to treat zillions of conditions – from colds and flu, to hayfever, to skin irritations.

Plus, it makes some seriously tasty drinks.

one elderflower head
This is one elderflower head. You need 20 of these to make cordial.

You might remember we made this elderberry cordial.  Not only is elderberry cordial a brilliant cold and flu remedy, it makes a yummy hot toddy, or just as a drink on its own, diluted with water.

Now we’re making the summertime equivalent – elderflower cordial.

This stuff is delicious.  DELICIOUS!  It still has immune boosting properties, and elderflower is especially recommended in cases of fever (typically mixed into a tea with peppermint and yarrow.)

But aside from the healthy goodness, elderflower cordial captures the taste of summer.  Make some now, and keep a bottle on-hand for deepest winter when you need a bit of sunshine.


This year, I used a recipe from Miles Irving (remember my Spring foraging weekend by the ocean?)  It makes a really sweet cordial, so you only need a little bit to make a tasty drink.  As Miles says, the most delicious cordial is made over a low heat, with lots of pollen-heavy elderflowers (so don’t rinse them first!)  He includes citric acid in his recipe, but I left it out because … well, I just didn’t have any on hand.



Elderflower Cordial

1.5 kilogram sugar ( 3 1/3 pounds sugar)

1 L water (4 1/4 cups water)

20 elderflower heads, unrinsed

2 unwaxed lemons



Heat the water in a large heavy saucepan until it’s simmering.  Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.  Let it cool to blood temperature (so you can comfortably put your finger in it.)

Now add the 20 flowerheads (short stems are OK, but pick off the leaves), and the zest and juice of the 2 lemons.

making elderflower cordial

Cover, and let sit for 24 hours.

Using a cheesecloth or strainer over a large bowl, strain off the liquid.  This is your elderflower cordial.  Yum!

Pour into sterilized bottles or freeze in small ice cube trays.  Personally I keep a bottle in the fridge for use right now, and freeze the rest for the winter.


How to use Elderflower Cordial:

elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial, ready to drink! Apologies for the photo – it’s so hard to make a glass of liquid look interesting!

As a drink – put 1-2 Tablespoons of cordial in a glass and fill with water.  You can adjust the amount of cordial to taste.

You can also fill with hot water and drink like a tea.  I’ve also been using it to make elderflower martinis with gin … stay tuned for the recipe!


Have you ever made elderflower cordial? What’s your favorite way to use it?

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