Beverage/ Flowers/ Food/ Foraging

    Homemade Elderflower Cordial Recipe

    Little White Fresh Elderberry Flowers

    Refresh your senses with our homemade elderflower cordial – a burst of floral sweetness in every sip!

    We have three elderflower bushes on our dog-walking route. I walk past them every day. They seem to come into bloom from about November until January in Cape Town. And when they do, I am absolutely over the moon! I just love everything that is made with elderflowers. Lately, I have been adding some to infuse in some vodka. And can’t wait to taste those as well. But today, I would love to share our elderflower cordial recipe.

    The elderflower cordial recipe is sweet and refreshing and it is perfect for summer days. They are made with only a few ingredients, namely elderflower blossoms, sugar, water, and lemon juice. You can make it at home and it is a great alternative to sugary soft drinks.

    How to identify Elderflowers

    To fully reap the benefits of elderflowers, it’s important to know how to identify them. Look for dark green leaves with jagged edges and a strong aroma when crushed, often found in groups of five. These leaves were even used as a natural insect repellent! As for the flowers, they start as small green buds before blossoming into creamy, pale yellow sprays. To avoid mistaking them for Pyracantha or cow parsley, which have different characteristics, be sure to properly identify elderflowers before harvesting.

    Picking Elderflowers

    The secret to making a well-flavoured cordial is to pick flowers early in the morning on a sunny day before it gets too hot, then use as soon as possible. Choose the freshest-looking heads, frothy with creamy-white flowers. Elderflowers are the edible blossoms of the Elder tree, Sambucus nigra.

    Picking Elderflowers reaching over the top of the tree

    Health benefits of Elderflowers

    • Soothe the symptoms of allergies, such as swollen sinuses and rhinitis.
    • Ease symptoms of colds, flu and bronchitis, such as congestion, fever, inflammation, headaches and swollen glands.
    • Act as a diuretic, easing bloating caused by fluid retention.
    • Reduce runny noses (catarrh).
    • Traditionally herbalists recommend taking elderflowers daily in the allergy season to reduce symptoms.
    • They can also be used topically as they impart anti inflammatory properties, so they’re great for calming irritated skin.

    basket full of elderflowers

    Picking elderflowers

    Picking elderflowers

    elderberry flowers and lemons


    Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

    • Fresh lemons, of course! When you’re making elderflower cordial, fresh-squeezed lemon juice is a must. Skip the bottled lemon juice, please!
    • Simple syrup – For sweetness. Make a simple syrup with 1kg granulated sugar and 2 l water, or infuse it with fresh basil, ginger or mint for an unexpected twist.
    • Elderflower heads – which can be found on elderberry bushes in the wild or purchased from a florist or online supplier
    • And ice – For a cold, refreshing drink.

    Adding elderflowers and lemon to a pot for elderflower cordial recipe

    How to make Elderflower Cordial

    • First, begin by gathering your elderflower heads and gently shaking them to remove any insects or debris. Lay the flowers down spread out on the table and let them sit for an hour.
    • Next, make the simple syrup. Try the basil variation for a more complex infused cordial.
    • Then, slice the lemons. Slice all the lemons in rounds.
    • Then, add it all together. Add slices of lemon and all the elderflowers to the hot sugar syrup. Cook for another ten minutes and let the flowers and lemon sit in that water for between 5 to 24 hours.
    • Then strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove any solid bits.
    • Transfer the cordial to sterilized glass bottles or jars and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
    • Pour into glasses filled with sparkling water and ice and top with your desired garnishes. We like lemon wheels and/or sprigs of fresh basil.

    Elderflower cordial in a glass

    Elderflower cordial can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It can be diluted with water or sparkling water to make a refreshing drink, or it can be added to cocktails or mocktails for a floral twist. It can also be used to flavor desserts, such as cakes or sorbets.

    Making elderflower cordial is not only easy but also a great way to enjoy the flavors of summer. It’s also a more natural and healthier alternative to store-bought soft drinks, which are often filled with artificial flavors and excessive amounts of sugar.

    How to grow your own Elderflower bush

    • Elderberry propagation via cuttings should be softwood cuttings. These are the best for propagating elderberries due to the new growth that is just at the cusp of maturity.
    • Take your softwood cuttings in early spring when the plant is just breaking dormancy. Cuttings form new roots from leaf nodes on the stem and, voila, you have a new elderberry plant that is a clone of the parent.
    • Cut the branch into 4- to 6-inch (10-15 cm.) long segments; you should get multiple cuttings from one branch.
    • Pinch off all the leaves from the lower two-thirds of the cutting. Be sure to leave at least one set of leaves at the top.
    • Rooting elderberry cuttings may begin either in water or a soil mix.
    • You can place the trimming cut side down in a jar filled with water, submerging halfway.
    • Put the jar in a sunny area for six to eight weeks, changing the water every so often.
    • Mist the cutting every few days.
    • Roots should begin to form by week eight.
    • They will be more fragile than those begun in soil, so wait until they look sturdy before transplanting them into the garden.

    Little White Fresh Elderberry Flowers


    In Conclusion

    In conclusion, elderflower cordial is a delicious and versatile drink that is easy to make at home. With its sweet and floral flavor, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the tastes of summer. So, go ahead and try making your own elderflower cordial – your taste buds will thank you!

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    Elderflower cordial recipe