Homemade Elderflower Cordial

For me, elderflower cordial is the taste of childhood summers – holidays that seemed like they would never end, the feel of sun-warmed grass on your bare feet, barbecues and picnics and going to the beach after school. I couldn’t possibly imagine a summer without it. These days, you can buy plenty of good versions in the supermarket, but nothing quite beats the homemade stuff – and if you haven’t made it before, you’ll be pleased to know it’s really easy. The only tricky part can be tracking down the citric acid, but if you have a good independent pharmacist in your town, that’s a pretty good bet.

A quick note on picking the flowers – make sure you don’t pick any below waist-height, to avoid any doggy business, and go for flowers that are large and without too many brown patches. And finally, please make sure that what you’re picking is in fact elderflower – cow parsley looks quite like it, but grows on a stalk rather than a bush or a tree, and really doesn’t taste as good. Keep it smart, people!

20 heads of elderflower
3.5lb white sugar (approximately 1,575g)
2 lemons, sliced
2 oz citric acid (50g)
3 pints of boiling water (approximately 1.7l)
You'll also need a muslin bag or large coffee filters, to strain the end product – a sieve won’t be fine enough to keep all the bits out

Makes 2.5l

Apologies for the fact that the quantities are in old money – it’s a very old family recipe!

Boil up the water, and in a large saucepan mix with the sugar until dissolved. Add the citric acid, sliced lemons and elderflower heads, stirring to make sure they’re submerged, and then pop a lid on the saucepan and leave for 24 hours, stirring every now and then.

When 24 hours have passed, strain the liquid using a muslin bag or coffee filters, and store in plastic bottles. Dilute with water to serve, in the same sort of proportions as you would for squash. Serve with plenty of ice and lemon. Cheers!