Elderflowerpower cordial (with a rose petal & sugar free variation)

Who doesn't love a refreshing elderflower cordial during the hot days of summer? Elderflowers grow on the elder shrub (Sambucus nigra), a tree surrounded by folklore, and legend says you must ask for permission before gathering your flowers or the resident elder mother will be annoyed! One of the useful ID features is that the flowers smell of elderflower cordial. Did you also know that in folklore, summer is counted from the first elderflower to the last elderberry?

For more history, identification and the many medicinal uses of elderflower, check out the full elder blog here. 

To make cordial, you will need:

  • 1.5L Water
  • 1kg Sugar
  • 20 heads of fresh Elderflower (this should be enough to fill a small colander)
  • optional: 2 handfuls of scented rose petals (don't use shop bought ones - these will be sprayed.
  • 30g Citric acid
  • 2 zested & juiced lemons


In a large saucepan, bring 1.5 litres of water to boil.

Add 1kg of sugar, stir in to dissolve, then bring the mixture back to a gentle simmer for 5-15 minutes until you have a thickened syrupy consistency.

Take the syrup off the heat. Add the elderflowers* (and rose petals if using),  lemon juice/zest and/or citric acid. Cover with a muslin cloth to keep bugs out.

Leave for 1-3 days, stirring every day to infuse the flavours to desired strength. Strain out the plant material and pour into sterilised** bottles.

Alternatively, pour into ice-cube trays and store in the freezer.

Sugar Free Variation:

Pack elderflower (and rose petals) loosely into a kilner jar. Cover with honey. 

Allow to infuse for 1-2 weeks. Strain and keep in sterilised jars. Use as you would a cordial, adding to fizzy water, with a squeeze of lemon juice and zest.

To use:

Use a ratio between 1:4 - 1:5 syrup to fizzy water, or add a splash to champagne. If using ice cubes - add a cube or two to each glass.

During winter, you can use this cordial for a soothing anti-viral drink that is helpful in treating colds and flu. Just add some to hot water, sip it gently and head to bed.

For more herbal recipes, why not have a look at our book?


Top Tips: 

*Pick elderflower heads on a hot dry day for best flavour. Use a fork to remove the elderflowers from the stems (you don't have to do this, but the stems are bitter, so this is a good tip for getting maximum taste). DO NOT wash the flowers, as this will wash away the tasty pollen. 

**To sterilise glass bottles: Use baby bottle sterilising fluid as per the instructions. OR wash bottles in hot soapy water, rinse. Place wet glass bottles on a baking tray and bake at 150 degrees Celsius until dry. Sterilise lids separately in fluid or they may melt.