A sweet, tart, and floral Elderflower Cordial recipe bursting with fresh flavor. This cordial recipe is super easy to make and versatile in its uses.
Looking for a way to make best use of elderflower season? Look no further! This elderflower cordial (aka elderflower syrup) has the taste of summer in a bottle.
What is a Cordial?
If you go on a search to learn more about cordials, you're likely to find yourself a bit confused about just what they are exactly. Some sources will consider them a syrup or liqueur, others—a water, soft drink or alcoholic beverage. So what is a cordial exactly? Traditionally, a cordial itself is a non-alcoholic syrup of sorts that is used to flavor both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages alike. It is concentrated in flavor and versatile in its uses.
Where to Find Fresh Elderflowers
See our tips below for more information on foraging elderflowers.
Otherwise, you can often find fresh elderflower flower heads being sold at farmers' markets and online. One of my favorite places to order fresh edible flowers online is Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.
Be certain to check elderflower heads for bugs before using them!
Tips for Foraging Elderflowers
When making delicious elderflower liqueur, foraging for the perfect blooms is the first step. Follow these simple tips to ensure a successful foraging.
1. Identify Elder Trees
Begin by familiarizing yourself with the distinctive features of elder trees (Sambucus nigra). Look for shrubs or small trees with compound leaves and clusters of small, creamy-white flowers. This is where your elderberries will eventually form.
2. Timing is Key
Forage for elderflowers during the best time of the year – late spring to early summer. This is when the elder trees are in full bloom, and the creamy-white flowers are at their peak flavor. Aim for a time when the majority of flowers in the cluster have opened.
3. Recognizing the Blooms
Focus on identifying the elderflower blooms rather than elderberries. Elderflowers are creamy-white and have a sweet, fragrant aroma.
4. Choose Fresh and Healthy Blooms
Select only the freshest and healthiest elderflower blooms for your cordial. Avoid flowers that are browning or have signs of wilting. The best elderflowers will be fully open and vibrant.
5. Respect Nature
Practice responsible and sustainable harvesting while foraging. Only take what you need, leaving enough flowers for the plant to reproduce and support local ecosystems. Be mindful of your surroundings and follow ethical foraging practices.
How to Make Homemade Elderflower Cordial with Step-by-Step Pictures
How to Use Elderflower Cordial
You can use elderflower cordial just as you would a flavored simple syrup. You can mix it with sparkling water for a refreshing beverage, or liquor for a fancy cocktail and serve it over ice, you can drizzle it over pancakes or ice cream, bake with it in your favorite cake and muffin recipes, you can make a salad vinaigrette by mixing a splash of it with olive oil or you can mix it with water or milk and then freeze in popsicles molds for a refreshing treat or make a sorbet. The possibilities are endless!
For longer shelf life, it's essential to store your elderflower cordial in sterilized containers. Start by cleaning your glass bottles or jars thoroughly. You can either run them through a hot wash in the dishwasher or wash them in hot, soapy water. Ensure the bottles are completely free of any residue.
You can pour the strained, cooled cordial into any lidded vessel of your choice and then keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months (and possibly longer). It is highly acidic, so it stores well. So long as the cordial doesn't have any off-putting smells, it is likely just fine!
Honey: If you are vegan or prefer a different sweetener, you can certainly use something different. Agave syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cane sugar—it all works in this recipe.
Citric Acid: Use 3 tablespoons of vinegar of choice in place of the two tablespoons of citric acid, if need be.
More Delicious Plant-Powered Drink Recipes
- ½ cup honey we like to use raw, unfiltered
- 2 cups boiling water heat on stovetop or water kettle, etc.
- 1 fresh lemon sliced
- 2 tablespoons citric acid
- 10 medium fresh elderflowers heads make sure the stems aren't attached as they are toxic!
- In a large pot or mixing bowl add the honey and boiling water. Stir until the honey dissolves.
- Add lemon slices, citric acid and elderflower heads. Give a good stir and then cover.
- Let it sit for at least 4 hours (or up to 2 days).
- Strain the cordial and let it cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge for up to two months.