Homemade Elderflower Cordial Recipe
Fresh and fragrant Elderflower Cordial is really simple to make at home and you can add it to soda, sparkling water, simply water or your favourite tipple to jazz up your drink! Here, Louise from Salix Moon Apothecary, who makes some of our magical skincare products shares her tried and tested recipe.
Quick & Simple Homemade Elderflower Cordial Recipe
by Louise Swain, Salix Moon Apothecary
It's almost June, a month I look forward to because of the abundance of Elderflowers that adorn the hedgerows with their frothy cream flowers and delightful sweet aroma. Elderflowers grow on the Elder shrub or tree (Sambucus nigra), from the end of May until around mid June, depending on where you live in the UK. If you're in the south like me then the Elderflowers are out in force and it's prime time for some foraging! You'll find them in hedgerows, dappled woody areas, and sometimes as a tree on its own.
Elder is a medium sized tree or shrub with oval serrated leaves which have 5-7 pairs of leaflets. It has slender, pale green stalks that break into fluffy ‘umbels’ of creamy white flowers. When ID-ing Elderflower it is important to identify all of the key features of the plant, the flowers, the leaves, the bark, the branches, the smell. It is important not to get preoccupied by the flowers, as there are many similar looking cream flowers in the wild world, some of which are very poisonous. Focus on the leaves, the texture and shape of the branches and make sure to use your senses, the smell of Elderflower is your biggest clue!
Oval serrated leaves with 5-7 pairs of leaflets
Creamy white fluffy 'umbels' made up of tiny flowers
It is best to collect the flowers in the morning when the heat of the sun is on them. Make sure there is plenty of pollen on the blossoms and refrain from washing them as you will wash away the pollen...the pollen is what gives it its flavour! (Refrain from collecting straight after rain for this reason too). I try and collect just a few flower heads from each shrub/tree as it is important to leave lots of the flowers for wildlife, plus, the more flowers you leave the more berries they'll be in Autumn!
One of the best ways to capture the sweet summery scent of Elderflower is as a cordial. I'm going to share with you my favourite recipe, it's so easy and delicious!
Makes approx 2 litres
- 1kg granulated white sugar
- 2 litres boiling water
- 15-25 heads of Elderflowers
- 85g citric acid (usually purchased from a chemist)
- 2-3 unwaxed lemons (sliced) and zest
- Put the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer and stir for around 5-10 mins whilst the sugar dissolves.
- Separately, strip the flowers from the heads (check for bugs first), making sure to remove as much of the stalk as possible.
- Once the sugar solution is ready and still hot, put all of the remaining ingredients in the pan, stir well, cover and then leave for 24 hours (up to 4 hours will suffice if in a rush). I cover my pan with a silicone stretch lid.
- Strain the mixture. I strain the mixture through my nut milk bag. You could use a muslin or tea towel if you do not have a bag.
- Pour into sterilised bottles*.
- Use the cordial with soda water, tonic, prosecco, gin or simply with water.
- You can store in your fridge for up to 6 weeks. Instead you could put it into silicone bags or ice cube trays in the freezer and defrost as needed.
*Sterilising bottles: This is a really important step to ensure the cordial will not spoil due to bacteria growth. Wash your bottles with hot soapy water and rinse out. Do not dry them. Instead, put them in the oven for 20 minutes at 120 degrees to dry out. Remove the bottles carefully and whilst still hot, pour the cordial into the bottles and let cool before putting in the fridge.
Happy Elderflower hunting! If you need help ID-ing feel free to send me photos on Instagram: @salix_moon_apothecary and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction. Louise x
Grey-brown, corky, furrowed bark
A solitary Elder tree