Can you believe I’ve been waiting to share this elderflower cordial recipe with you for a whole year? I made this boozy elderflower cordial at the peak of elderflower season last year but I didn’t want to share it before tasting it in case it didn’t taste right. By the time it was ready and had the Moral Fibres seal of approval by that point elderflower season was over.
As it tasted so good, this year I thought I’d share the homemade elderflower cordial recipe early on in the season so there’s plenty of time for you to go out and pick! Here in Edinburgh the elderflowers are just coming out into bloom at the moment. If you’re further south they may in bloom already.
Step One – Foraging for Elderflowers
My secret elderflower foraging spot!
First up you’ll need to find and pick your elderflowers. Elderflowers are pretty ubiquitous around the UK and are likely to be found in woods, beside rivers or canals, in graveyards, etc. Another common place is beside roads, but I’d tend to avoid picking beside busy roads.
Elderflowers are quite easy to spot – look for a flowering bush, with delicate white flowers and a distinct sambuca like smell. If in doubt I found a handy elderflower identification guide that you might find useful. If you’re still in doubt don’t pick anything and ask an expert!
This is what you’re looking for!
Once you’ve found your elderflowers bear in mind it’s best to pick elderflowers on a dry sunny day, in the morning, when the flowers are at their most fragrant. This apparently translates to a richer sweeter flavour, but if it’s late afternoon don’t worry too much! Avoid picking at ground level (dogs!) – pick from the higher branches. You also want to make sure that you pick nice creamy white flower heads – anything brown or a bit discoloured may taste a bit bitter.
Give the flowerheads a good shake before you put them in your bag to dislodge any insects, and try not to pick from just the one bush. The elderflower cordial recipe calls for about fifteen elderflower heads.
Step Two – The Elderflower Cordial Recipe
Boozy Elderflower Cordial Recipe
- A 1 litre capacity jar
- About 15 elderflower heads see above for how to identify and pick elderflowers
- 1 litre of cheap generic vodka
- One large lemon
- 5 tablespoons of sugar
Dip your elderflowers in water and give them a good shake to dry. Peel a lemon, and keep the peel to the side.
Then add your flowers to a sterilised jar, adding the lemon peel as you go so it’s evenly distributed in the jar. Keep going until you've added as much elderflower as the jar will hold and all of the lemon peel.
Add 5 teaspoons of sugar, about 5 mls of juice from your lemon, and pour in the vodka until you’ve completely submerged all of the elderflowers. Screw the lid on and give the jar a good shake.
Leave for four weeks in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally to mix the sugar in.
During the four weeks it’s really worth occasionally opening your jar to check that the vodka is still covering the elderflowers otherwise the top ones might go a bit brown and make it taste a bit bitter. If this happens just take out the brown flowers and top up with more vodka.
Once your four weeks are up sieve your mix to remove the flowers and lemon peel, and decant your flavoured vodka into a sterilised bottle or jar. It will keep for onwards of a year!
You can drink your cordial straight over ice, or add some lemonade, tonic or soda water for a refreshing summer drink.
You can add any flavours you want to your elderflower cordial. I added a punnet of local raspberries in another jar as and it turned out beautifully. Elderflower cordial tastes like summer at the best of times, but the addition of raspberries was extra summery! Strawberries, cherries or blackberries would also work well, I’d imagine, but blackberries are never ready here in Edinburgh in time for elderflower season!
I got a bit carried away and ended up with three large jars of elderflower cordial! I had intended to give some of it away, but, ahem, that didn’t quite happen…! I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that after a year this is all we have left of our supply:
Needless to say I’ll be out elderflower foraging in the next few weeks, and getting funny looks at the local shop for buying so much vodka!
Hope you enjoy this elderflower cordial recipe – bottoms up!
ps: keep an eye out for elderberries later in the season. You can make this delicious non-alcoholic spiced elderberry syrup from them! I made a small batch last year, which we used up far too quickly. I have made a mental note to make triple what I made as it was just incredible (and I’m not 100% certain if it was down to the syrup but I didn’t catch the cold once over the winter season…).