These instructions for making elderflower cordial were given to me about 25 years ago and I have used them every year since then with great success. I usually make twelve times this quantity (yes, really), which is about two buckets full. Elderflower cordial is useful in a myriad of ways: as an interesting alcohol alternative for drivers mixed with plain or fizzy water; in salad dressings; with gooseberries or rhubarb; mixed with strawberry coulis, sparkling water, borage flowers, mint and lemon in an non-alcoholic punch; and as a stunning addition to a martini (NOT for drivers)… to name but a few. Rather surprisingly it goes well with the grassy, gooseberry taste of Sauvignon Blanc, so make a spritzer of 1 part elderflower cordial, 4 parts fizzy water, 5 parts Sauvignon Blanc and add ice and some slightly twisted lemon peel.

It keeps for a long time if kept in a cool dark place… like a wine cellar for example.

This is how to make elderflower cordial:

  • 1 litre/2 pints of water
  • 1 kg/2 lbs 4 oz sugar
  • 60 g/2 oz citric acid
  • 2 lemons
  • 20 elderflowers
  1. dissolve the sugar in boiling water and leave to cool
  2. add the other ingredients and leave for three days
  3. strain
  4. bottle in sterilised glass (NB not plastic) bottles (see below for how to do this)

how to sterilise glass jars and bottles for cordials, chutneys and other preserves

Some people do this either using a super-hot dishwasher setting or in the microwave, but especially since I have an aga I find putting them carefully in the top left oven for twenty minutes is the easiest way. Those without an aga can replicate this by simply heating their oven to 130°C. Some people put newspaper on the oven racks but I never bother with this. Take out of the oven and leave to cool completely, fill with cold liquid or preserves. For more on how to sterilise go here.


This blog post is dedicated to Christine Miles