In which I go foraging and make elderflower cordial


While I was out taking photographs for my last blog, I noticed that the elderflowers were in full bloom. This set me thinking. I first tasted elderflower cordial 12 years ago. It had been made by a friend and she served it up as refreshments for those who were helping her to move house. At the time, I had a very sore throat and found the elderflower cordial both deliciously refreshing and very soothing. I asked her for the recipe with the full intention of making it the following year. However, later that same year I collapsed with the ME/CFS, putting an end to any such thoughts for some years.

Since then, I have occasionally bought commercially produced elderflower cordial, but never enjoyed it as much as that first taste. So, seeing the elderflowers in bloom, it occurred to me that at last my opportunity had come to try making it.

So, on Thursday, I went on a foraging expedition on my mobility scooter. It was a warm, sunny afternoon, just right for being out, so I decided to go well out on to the Somerset Levels to conduct my search. The roads I chose to follow have little traffic, just the occasional farm vehicle, so there was no need to worry that the flowers would be overly contaminated with traffic dust and fumes.

I returned home with the equivalent of 20 large heads. I have long since mislaid the original recipe, so I consulted the internet instead. Most of the recipes I found required citric acid as well as lemons. I didn’t know how easily I’d be able to find this, so I decided just to use more lemons instead. I wasn’t sure how many lemons would work well, so I found a recipe for traditional lemonade which suggested equal amounts of lemon/citrus juice and a syrup made from sugar and water. This sounded good to me, so I adapted one of the elderflower cordial recipes accordingly. This is what I ended up with:

10 large heads of elderflower
4 lemons
1 Grapefruit
350g sugar
350ml water

I didn’t want to make too much because I didn’t know how it would taste, so I put the rest of the elderflowers in the freezer for next time.

I squeezed out all the juice from the lemons and grapefruit. This came to about 350ml, so I used the same amounts for the sugar and water. I boiled up the water with the sugar until all the sugar had dissolved and put this in a bowl with the juice. Then I added the elderflowers. I also chopped up the skin of two of the lemons and put that in the bowl. Then I left it for 24 hours to brew. It reminded me of the hours I spent as a child crushing flower petals in water to make ‘perfume’ or mixing interesting looking potions from other ingredients found in the garden.


Properly, I think I was supposed to let the sugar water cool before I put the elderflowers in, but I needed to go out, so I put them in whilst it was still hot. It seemed fine to me.

After 24 hours, I strained the mixture through a sieve lined with kitchen paper. Probably, I should have used muslin instead of kitchen paper, but the internet said kitchen paper would do. After waiting overnight, it still hadn’t finished draining, so I broke the paper and let the last of the liquid run through the sieve instead. I’m sure Mary Berry would be horrified, but that’s OK because she isn’t going to be drinking it.

Anyway, I ended up with about 800ml. I diluted this about 1:5 to taste and…

(Da dum tish)

It tasted like elderflower cordial. Now there’s a surprise!

Next time, I think I will add another lemon, just to give it a little more bite. However, I thought it turned out very well. Certainly, it’s disappearing very rapidly!


2 thoughts on “In which I go foraging and make elderflower cordial

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