a Kitchen in Hitchin

Elderflower cordial

Elderflower Cordial

I want to be that person who makes lovely chutney, relishes and makes use of fresh seasonal produce, but inevitably I am not organised, miss the boat or generally mess it up. Not this year! I had all my ducks in a row and now I am swimming in literally litres of this now. It’s probably too late for you to do it now, but put this to the back of your mind and try it next year. When you have your ducks in a row.

If you are lucky enough to live near the country you’ll see elderflowers blossoming fragrantly at this time of year. You’ll need about 20-25 heads of elderflowers. Be sure to acquire the most scented ones, occasionally you’ll get a tree that smells of wee, so you will have to smell them all. I do understand you run the risk of looking like a deranged idiot smelling trees, but do it anyway! It’s liberating.

The way I’ve done this is to make the sugar syrup and then pour it over the flowers which are in another large bowl. Alternatively you could add the flowers to the pan with the syrup in it. It just depends what large bowls and pans you have. You will make a large volume of mixture which is heavy to move around. Having said that, this is a very easy recipe to do, you’ll need to let the flowers steep in the syrup for 24 hours.


20-25 heads of elderflowers
80 gr citric acid or vitamin A powder. You can get this from a chemist (not Boots though!)
2 kg granulated sugar
2 lemons

Get a large pan and put 1.5 litres of cold water in it and add the sugar. Put a low heat under it and gently warm it throughout to dissolve the sugar.

Check your elderflower heads for bugs and creepy-crawlies and put them into a large bowl. Zest the lemons and put that into the bowl and then slice the lemons and add them also.

By now I expect the sugar will have dissolved and the pan is getting hotter. Bring the sugar syrup to a boil and then switch off the heat. Add the citric acid, it will fizz a little. Give a little stir to make sure the citric acid is fully mixed in. Now carefully ladle the hot sugar syrup into the bowl with the elderflowers and make it’s all fully mixed. Cover with cling film and leave in a cool place for 24 hours to steep.

You will need to sieve the cordial to remove solid stuff. Get a large pan or bowl and set a colander over it. Use a clean tea-towel or muslin to line the colander and pour the liquid in. It won’t go through quickly so a ladle at a time is good. When you are almost finished you may like to pick up the tea towel and give it a gentle squeeze to get the last few drops of precious liquid out.

Now for bottling. This will make around 4 litres of cordial. I was surprised myself at the large volume and ended up quickly re-cycling salad dressing bottles. However, I’m sure YOU will be more organised! Pour into very clean bottles and jars with lids or corks. The citric acid helps preserve the cordial but still keep it in the fridge and drink within 6 weeks. You could also hand out little bottles of it to friends and feel a bit like a slightly smug Margot from “The Good Life”.

© Sarah-Jane and Stephen Lewis. All rights reserved.



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