Elderflower cordial is an easy to make, refreshing drink perfect for sunny days.
Foraging has become popular in recent years – and an elderflower cordial is one of the easiest things to make from the commonly found flowers
With many people taking time in lockdown to discover what’s available on their doorstep to forage, one of the easiest plants to spot is the elder tree – which produces fragrant white elderflowers in late spring and elderberries in the autumn.
As spring slowly turns to summer, the familiar fragrant elderflowers can be seen in hedgerows and gardens across the country. But what can these be used for?
One of the most common recipes is for elderflower cordial, which can be added to water for a refreshing drink or to gin for a summery G&T.
How to harvest elderflowers
You’ll need to take some scissors or secateurs on a walk and choose a sunny day so that the flowers are fully open.
Cut the flower heads at the stock, so that they stay in tact and keep them as upright as possible to ensure as much pollen stays on the flowers.
How to make elderflower cordial
You’ll need about 15-20 elderflower heads, water, sugar and lemons. Some recipes call for citric acid and others, the addition of honey for added sweetness.
Jamie Oliver has an easy to follow recipe, that uses freshly picked elderflowers and store cupboard ingredients.
15 heads of elderflower
500g caster sugar
4 tablespoons quality runny honey
2 unwaxed lemons
Wash the elderflower well, picking off any bugs.
Place the sugar and honey in a large saucepan with 1 litre of water.
Gently bring to the boil, until all the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
Finely grate in the lemon zest and add the elderflower upside down, making sure the flowers are completely submerged.
Squeeze in the juice from one of the lemons, then slice the other and add it to the pan, too. Pop the lid on and leave to one side to infuse for 24 hours.
When you’re ready to strain your cordial, line a fine sieve with muslin over a large bowl (if you don’t have muslin, you can use good quality kitchen towel) and pour through the cordial.
Store in sterilised bottles or jars and drink diluted with water, soda or Prosecco.
BBC Good Food have the following recipe for an elderflower cordial – all you need is to go foraging for the flowers and ensure you have citric acid.
2½ kg white sugar, either granulated or caster
2 unwaxed lemons
20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
85g citric acid (from chemists)
Put the sugar and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have.
Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved.
Give it a stir every now and again.
Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat.
Fill a washing up bowl with cold water.
Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs.
Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well.
Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan.
Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel.
Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water.
Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven.
The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.