Make your own elderflower cordial

Make your own elderflower cordial

Elderflower is a forager’s favourite pick between May and June. The trees are found throughout the UK in woods, along roadsides and among hedgerows. The heads are ripe for the picking when there are lots of tiny white flowers, which have a sweet, summery scent.

The flowers are edible once cooked, but mildly toxic if eaten raw. Pick the flower heads on a dry, warm and sunny day, and give them a good shake to remove any bugs or beasties. To bottle both the taste and smell of summer, you will need a good basketful of the flower heads. This is the number one ingredient to make cordial and many other sweet treats.

Lolly’s N19 Elderflower Cordial

My niece Lolly is a creative genius in the kitchen. From a young age she has been making and creating and the results are delicious. Her garden in north London is a special place for our family, filled with memories from long summer days. It is also home to a red elderflower tree, which means her elderflower cordial looks a little jazzier than most!

You will need

30 elderflower heads
1.7l boiling water
900g golden caster sugar
50g citric acid (available from most pharmacies)
3 lemons, sliced
2 good handfuls of non-sprayed fragrant rose petals (optional)

To make

  1. Give the elderflower heads a good shake to remove any little beasties that might be taking cover.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a large pot and stir thoroughly. Leave to cool.
  3. Add the citric acid, the lemon slices, and then the flowers and rose petals (if using).
  4. Leave in a cool place for 24 hours.
  5. Strain through some muslin and transfer into sterilised bottles.

Top tip

Elderflower cordial is not just for drinking but is also lovely to drizzle over a Victoria sponge to let the summery flavours seep into it. You can also try adding it to vanilla buttercream, for an extra summery blast.


Helen Cross lives in Glasgow with her husband and three boys. They spend lots of time in the kitchen cooking and making a mess. Helen hosts the podcast Grow Cook Inspire and is a horticultural educator. Her new book Grow, Cook, Inspire is available at

Edited extract from Grow, Cook, Inspire: Growing and Cooking for a Healthier Mind and Planet by Helen Cross, illustrated by Ruth Craddock.


Published in issue 84. Accurate at the time this issue went to print. 

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