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This recipe is classed as easy

Rating 3.21 / 5 (2575 votes)

Prep time:
20 min, plus overnight infusing
Cook time:
5 min
Makes 1.5 litres

Sophie Grigson captures the essence of warm English summers with this refreshing and versatile elderflower cordial See more elderflower recipes


1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.

2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup, and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

4. Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new j-cloth rinsed out in boiling water), and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard ready to use.

Looking for more ways with elderflower? Take a look at our elderflower recipes


  • 20 heads of elderflower
  • 1.8 kg granulated sugar, or caster sugar
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 75 g citric acid

Tips and suggestions

To serve, dilute the elderflower cordial to taste with fizzy water and serve over ice with a slice or two of lemon, or a sprig of mint floating on top. Or add cloudy lemonade to make a non-alcoholic elderflower fizz.

For something more grown up, add a shot of gin or vodka and a lemon slice, or add it to white wine and sparkling water to make an elderflower spritzer.

Use your cordial to make gin, cucumber and elderflower ice lollies, elderflower syllabub or blueberry and elderflower upside down cake among our favourite elderflower recipes

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Latest Comment


I am a great fan of Sophie Grigson! Her recipes are always a hit, proportions and instructions never fail!!! I still use some recipes I cut out from her Evening Standard column (ehmm... that was twenty years ago!)

I wish she was more visible than some current puppets... :-)

Thanks for this recipe, I know I can try it without doubting the results!

bernL34882 bernL34882  Posted 15 May 2014 7:05 PM

Hi Jill,
Thank you for your message. Kept tightly sealed, the cordial can keep up to three months, once opened it is best kept in the fridge and used within a month. You can also freeze the cordial to use at a later date. It is best to keep the cordial in glass or plastic bottles.
I hope this helps and good luck with making your cordial.

Becs Good Food Becs Good Food  Posted 16 Jul 2013 2:46 PM

Please could you indicate how long the cordial kept for and in what type of container and in what conditions. Always this type of recipe seems to omit this sort of information and trying to juggle when to make up the Cordial for a specific event and to co-incide with availability of good quality flowers can be tricky. Thanks

JILLW91186 JILLW91186  Posted 08 Jul 2013 2:17 PM

To make a nice drink of elderflower, lemon salt should not be used, which is a poison to the human body, but only the Lemon, fresh lemon juice and zest.
The recipe is as follows:
10-15 blossoms of elderflower
1.3 kg granulated sugar
3-4 lemons (juice and peel, grated or as they are)
some raisins (optional)
10 liters of boiled and cooled water.
The flowers, juice from lemon peel and raisins and put them in a glass bowl (jar) of 10 l, along with a few grains of rice, which will speed up fermentation.
Pour the boiled and cooled water, which melted in, the 1.3 kg granulated sugar.
Cover with gauze and put it in the sun or in a warm place for 3-4 days, mix it several times per day until it ferments.
Strain and put in, bottles with corks hermetic, in the cold place in the refrigerator or in a cool basement.
In a few days, will appear on the bottom deposit bottles and the liquid becomes clear and sparkling. Now is good drink.
Enjoy it!
It can make and 3-4 g fresh yeast 'to hasten the fermentation and increase its vitamin content. This is optional for every housewife!

GrunbergM78111 GrunbergM78111 Posted 21 Jun 2013 1:22 PM

Made my first batch of elderflower cordial this year using this recipe - it was very easy to make and tastes lovely with fizzy water and ice. I've put it into various jam jars I've been saving so I can give them away as presents.

Anna -Good Food Anna -Good Food Posted 21 Jun 2013 11:21 AM

LindaT68015 LindaT68015 Posted 22 Aug 2012 3:27 AM

excellent flavour and easy to make.

joyceP33598 joyceP33598 Posted 26 Jun 2012 4:22 PM

Just bottled 5 litres made last night from Cornish elderflower blossoms picked on Sunday and its absolutely delicious and fragrant! The recipe worked perfectly although the local chemist wanted some reassurances from my husband when he purchased 150g of citric acid!

KateS49739 KateS49739 Posted 19 Jun 2012 10:01 PM

So simple and so delicious. Never want to buy from a shop again. Unfortunately, elderberries are only once a year and for a short time.

UKTV Food User UKTV Food User Posted 18 Jun 2012 12:29 PM

This cordial is great. How long will it last? I steriles the bottles and kept in a cool place.

Pui KuanC83755 Pui KuanC83755 Posted 12 Jun 2012 4:31 PM

Hi Deborah, you can get citric acid from a winemaking specialist online or on the high street, or from your local chemist.

Lisa: Good Food Lisa: Good Food Posted 12 Jun 2012 2:16 PM

Hi Laura and Katherine, this cordial will usually keep for 3 weeks, sealed in a bottle in the fridge. You can also freeze it in small batches to keep for even longer!

Lisa: Good Food Lisa: Good Food Posted 12 Jun 2012 2:12 PM

I am preparing to make this, and wondered too how long it is possible to store it, and how is it best stored? Thanks.

LauraG68263 LauraG68263 Posted 10 Jun 2012 7:29 PM

How long does this cordial keep before going "off"?

KatherineN56585 KatherineN56585 Posted 10 Jun 2012 6:37 PM

Last year I got citric acid from a brewers suppliers when I also made some fantastic elderflower cordial using a lemon & an orange rather than 2 lemons - heavenly :-) Kept us going throughout the summer and well into autumn.
Anyone know a receipe for Elderflower Champagne?

RikS65909 RikS65909 Posted 09 Jun 2012 5:06 PM

Where can I get citric acid? When I search for it in the supermarket it shows me mango pulp - is this what I need?

DeborahE21416 DeborahE21416 Posted 09 Jun 2012 2:27 PM

I have used this delightful recipe two years in a row, last year making one batch and this year making two. Last year I followed this recipe exactly and it was a gorgeous cordial; but perhaps a little too lemony. So I added a few more elderflowers to infuse with it. This recipe is truly versatile and this year I doubled up the mixture and made it without citric acid (I used lemon extract which wasn't as nice but still fantastic) It still had the complete flavour. I recommend adding more elderflower blooms to infuse with it; I have used around 50 (but it was quite a concentrated mix). I thoroughly recommend the recipe and it was enjoyed by all. I can’t wait to use it at our Diamond Jubilee Party Tomorrow!!

D.H28130 D.H28130 Posted 02 Jun 2012 5:09 PM

Large brew cooling off for the Jubilee Big Lunch tomorrow!

Margaret?20110 Margaret?20110 Posted 02 Jun 2012 3:38 PM

I made this last year and it was wonderful, the flowers are just comming out, so tomorrow I will be getting some and doing twice the amount so it lasts a bit longer, my 97 year old Mother in law can't wait for her share, all the family loves it, so get picking.

Daisy darling Daisy darling Posted 29 May 2012 6:40 PM

Just made my new batch - having just had the last of the bottle I made 2 years ago - it keeps that long in the fridge, but the new batch smells so much nicer - ready to add to vodka and tonic!

JennyC11098 JennyC11098 Posted 18 Jun 2011 5:08 PM

Have recently made this cordial. I used 550g of sugar and half the lemon as, having made it before, the lemon can overpower the taste of the elderflower and the full 800 grammes of sugar is too sweet. The result is full flavoured cordial, tangy, really hits the taste buds in the back of the mouth! A hint of lemon, beautiful pink colour as I used the purple variety of elderflower from the garden, taste lovely with tonic water or lemonade. This can be steeped for 5 days with the full amount of ingrediants, then poured through muslin and frozen. Intensifies the flavour. Highly recommended!!! Off to make more!!

hazelS9166 hazelS9166 Posted 26 May 2011 9:33 AM

I made this last week and it tasted fantastic. Worked really well in a gin, soda water, mint and cordial cocktail too.

Celia Good Food Celia Good Food Posted 24 May 2011 4:32 PM

How long does the cordial last as I would like to make it for gifts??

SURETEE SURETEE Posted 20 May 2011 10:58 AM

I doubled the ingredients and made 5ltrs. A very refreshing drink, but I'm afraid the amount of lemon overides the delicate taste of the elderflower. Will try again next year, with less lemon.

PaulineD33783 PaulineD33783 Posted 30 Jun 2010 9:46 PM

You can also buy citric acid from the pharmacy at larger Sainsbury stores! Just in the process of making my cordial now Smile

BecciS7238 BecciS7238 Posted 27 Jun 2010 6:03 PM

I loved the sweet freshness of this recipe and won a first prize at our local show with it. This year I have chosen a less sweet recipe and will see how it compares. I also liked your recipe precision, no cups or packets to keep one guessing.

ClareH16694 ClareH16694 Posted 19 Jun 2010 7:11 PM

I went on the hunt for citric acid and finally found small tubs of it for sale on a brewing stall in the market after being laughed out of 3 chemists and a cook shop! THEN I discovered it's available much more cheaply online from a 'well known auctioning site'!

VickyB74280 VickyB74280 Posted 17 Jun 2010 8:47 PM

Have been picking Elderflowers and made about 6ltrs of this wonderful cordial! Highly recommend you make this. So Easy to make!

IsabelF48619 IsabelF48619 Posted 17 Jun 2010 5:46 PM

Hi Mackie,

You can buy citric acid in chemists, I did also see it in a major supermarket, the kind of place you might find Jamie Oliver perusing the aisles ; )

Nora R Nora R Posted 10 Jun 2010 4:26 PM

This recipe is fantastic. I used it last year with very good results. It also froze well, the only thing is, on defrosting the citric acid goes to the bottom with no loss of taste but leaves a sludge. Any ideas how to avoid this, otherwise an excellent and very easy recipe.

carolineS14228 carolineS14228 Posted 07 Jun 2010 7:35 PM

please advise where can I get citric acid which is in required for this receipe

MackieM52930 MackieM52930 Posted 06 Jun 2010 7:54 PM

You can buy citric acid from Amazon.co.uk I know that sounds crazy but they have a kitchen section. The only thing is, the citric acid is very cheap, but the postage costs more. However, you may find you live close to one of the suppliers. Try putting "citric acid" in your favourite search engine - you may come up with another source.

LesleyH53039 LesleyH53039 Posted 09 Jul 2009 10:48 PM

beautiful so easy to make so refreshing lovely summer drink

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 04 Jul 2009 11:48 AM

Fabulous in this heatwave, a great substitute and a lot cheaper than wine!!

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 02 Jul 2009 4:57 PM

Citric acid can be bought at the chemists... I'm having trouble with Elderflowers!

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 02 Jul 2009 12:00 PM

Citric acid can be purchased from the dispensing counter at Superdrug, where you will be asked searching questions as to why you want it! But there should be no difficulty in getting it for this delicious cordial.

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 29 Jun 2009 5:27 PM

You can order citric acid from Boots chemist or buy it on line from brewing suppliers.

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 27 Jun 2009 5:08 PM

I didn't have any citric acid (where can you buy it?) so I doubled the amount of lemons used, which gave a very slight bitter tinge to it, but it was still very refreshing and an easy recipe to follow.

brrm brrm brrm brrm Posted 26 Jun 2009 9:40 PM

I didn't have any citric acid (where can you buy it?) so I doubled the amount of lemons used, which gave a very slight bitter tinge to it, but it was still very refreshing and an easy recipe to follow.

brrm brrm brrm brrm Posted 26 Jun 2009 9:40 PM

brill. cordial with plain tonic over ice, with a slice or two of lime is good too... and the vinaigrette goes will with the first of my scottish garden's salads.

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 25 Jun 2009 7:39 PM

I have been looking for this recipe for ages and am going to try it right now. Brilliant thanks

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 24 Jun 2009 7:23 PM

Make cordial ice cubes and toss into champagne - gorgeous !

Anonymous Anonymous Posted 22 Jun 2009 4:30 PM

If you are using sweetener instead of sugar, remember that 1 tablespoon of sweetener should replace one ounce of sugar. It won't last as long on the shelf, but you can half-fill plastic bottles with the cordial and freeze them.

JuliaA70475 JuliaA70475 Posted 20 Jun 2009 10:47 PM

does anyone know can a sweetner be used intead of sugar

annS81823 annS81823 Posted 19 Jun 2009 9:25 PM

Does anyone know how I can salvage this batch of cordial if I have used too much citric acid? I was considering adding calcium carbonate.

rupertS22823 rupertS22823 Posted 11 Jun 2009 11:07 AM


rupertS22823 rupertS22823 Posted 11 Jun 2009 10:51 AM

You can get it from amazon.co.uk

NickO86242 NickO86242 Posted 10 Jun 2009 1:43 PM

You can buy it at all Halal stores - 79p 100g where I am!

AdamB26867 AdamB26867 Posted 04 Jun 2009 2:48 PM

You can buy it from a home brew website in quantities up to 500g and it's much cheaper! A lot of chemists will no longer sell it and it's a very uneconomical way to go!

NicolaC93265 NicolaC93265 Posted 03 Jun 2009 11:14 AM

You can't buy it for 99p - it cost me £6.26 today! Let me know if there is anywhere cheaper.

LeahL1449 LeahL1449 Posted 31 May 2009 4:51 PM

You can buy Citric acid at Boots for 99p (50g). It is tartaric acid which has the alternative - illegal- useage. (Tartaric does the same job as citric acid and is often named in recipes for elderflower

candc candc Posted 27 May 2009 6:25 PM

You can buy citric acid very cheaply at Wilkinson's in the home brew section, or buy it online from home brew suppliers.

MeganM499 MeganM499 Posted 21 May 2009 8:28 PM

I can not get the citric acid at local chemist anymore. I was told it was used when taking illegal drugs.

gourmetcat gourmetcat Posted 07 May 2009 10:32 PM

I buy citric acid from a shop on ebay, around 1kg for £5. Citric acid is naturally found in citric fruits so I cannot understand why you'been told its a banned substance. I use it all the time in making natural skincare products. Hope this helps?

NickyH70481 NickyH70481 Posted 16 Apr 2009 1:40 PM

Can you tell me where I can buy citric acid to make elderflower cordial? My chemist no longer stocks it as she says it is a banned substance!

JillW24702 JillW24702 Posted 18 Mar 2009 4:24 PM

Please tell me how to increase quantities to make 4X the recipe. I am wondering specifically about the citric acid quantity. By the way, we can still buy it in supermarkets here.

LynB38056 LynB38056 Posted 05 Nov 2008 9:31 AM

To remove the mist tie a jelly bag over the legs of an upturned 4 legged chair

gerry.t gerry.t Posted 18 Jun 2008 4:14 PM

Help..........This will be the 3rd year I have made this and it is cloudy..does anyone have Ideas what I can do? It still tastes good.............

UKTV Food User UKTV Food User Posted 16 Jun 2008 11:24 AM