Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Homemade Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Late May – June is Elderflower time!

Elderflower cordial in the shops is expensive and can be a bit sickly sweet. This homemade recipe makes great cordial and, with the use of Camden tablets your cordial will stay fresh for a long time.

We also have a recipe for Elderflower Champagne (we call it “pop”), and later in the year, elderberry syrup.

Here is Elderflower growing wild on the branch in its natural habitat: my photography booth in the shed.

You can pick ripe flowers from Elder (you’ll often find it growing in country hedging) around the end of May, when they smell sweet and develop a faint yellow-ish hue. Having three or four mature bushes around will give you enough flowers to keep a large family in elderflower cordial all year.

This is our family Elderflower cordial recipe (we also think it’s the best – you can tell us what you think in the comments below!).

You will need:

  • 35 fresh elder flower heads – always pick the sweet smelling ones (which tend to be a bit buttery in colour and which do not drop petals when shaken)
  • 2 oranges, rough sliced
  • 2 lemons or limes, also rough sliced
  • 2oz tartaric or citric acid – we prefer citric which makes for a more lemony taste, but some of our friends like tartaric. You can buy either from a shop that sells winemaking stuff, and you can get citric acid from your local chemist.
  • 3 pints boiling water
  • 3lb granulated sugar, (or use the equivalent of granulated Splenda – it is very light so follow the instructions which substitute volume for weight)
  • 1 Camden tablet per gallon of cordial (winemakers also use these, they kill the natural yeasts on the elder flowers and allow you to store the cordial for years without it going fizzy).
  • Large plastic containers, big enough to hold your batch of cordial.
  • Glass or food grade plastic bottles with airtight caps.
  • A Siphon tube.
  • J-cloths or wine filtering fabric.
  • A large sieve.


  • Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Allow it to cool properly.
  • Add the orange and lemon slices to the cool sugar water.
  • Stir in and make sure the tartaric or citric acid is dissolved.
  • Add the elder flower heads.
  • Cover it up with a lid or cloth (we like to use a 5 gallon (25 litre) home winemaking plastic barrels) and leave it for 48-72 hours.
  • Strain the mixture and leave for another 48 hours.
  • We then siphon it all to another container, leaving the sediment/dregs behind, and then we add 1 crushed Camden tablet per gallon of cordial.
  • Shake well, and then leave for 3-4 hours to settle.
  • Bottle, leaving behind any more dregs.
  • If you don’t want to use two large containers, then you will need to add a crushed Camden tablet at the rate of 1 per gallon (1/2 a tablet to a 4 pint milk container for example) and carefully siphon directly into that. Shake the bottle well after you have filled it and do the top up tightly. Shake it again an hour or two later to make sure the tablet has dissolved. It will then keep for ages – as in years.

Always use sterilised bottles:

  • Microwave – 2-3 minutes should kill anything.
  • Oven –  put glass bottles into your cold oven. Run it up to about 140C, keep it there for 10-15 minutes and then leave it to cool.
  • You can also use Milton or just boiling hot water.

How long you can store your cordial:

  • With no acids or tablets – 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Freeze in plastic bottles for longer storage.
  • With the citric or tartaric acid it will keep for 3-4 months in the fridge.
  • With the Camden tablets, elderflower cordial keeps almost indefinitely in a cool, dark place.

Dilute the cordial to taste (about 1:5) and Enjoy in the garden, with or without choirs of elderflower angels celebrating overhead.

Creative Commons License

Elderflower Cordial Recipe by
Frances Bosdari is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

For permissions beyond the scope of this license please contact us

By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.


  1. john says:

    I always used a friends recipe but thought it was a bit sweet and sickly. I found this elderflower cordial recipe and made a small batch last week. I only have two things to say:

    1. This is absolutely the best elderflower cordial I have ever tasted, and
    2. I have just come back from Morissons with most of the stuff I need to make a load more.


  2. Howard says:

    Hi, I have made the cordial, I havent had a chance to taste it yet. I was just wondering if you had a recipe for the marmalade to make with the left over fruit.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Julian

    Approx how much cordial is made from using the recepie above as it doesnt state or I missed it?

    Kind regards


  4. Edward says:

    A little over 3 Pints.

  5. MARCIA says:

    I have just made the recipe and it is still standing and looks good. Please can I have the marmalade recipe if poss so I can use the sludge as it smells and tastes really good at present!!

    Thanks Marcia

  6. Alice says:

    What incredible Elderflower Cordial! The instructions are so easy.

    I’d love the marmalade recipe aswell.. the left overs will be too good to waste.

    Many thanks,

  7. Milise says:

    Wow, I’ve been meaning to make this for ages (well, since I discovered I owned an elderflower tree and that I could make cordial from it – last year! :/ )…

    I just thought I might post a suggestion:
    I haven’t got any acid or Camden tablets so what I plan to do is pour the cordial into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then I’ll unmould it and transfer the frozen cubes into a zip-loc bag. That way I’ll just unfeeze the desirable amount when needed!

    Just thought this might be helpful to others! 🙂


  8. Jayne says:

    Me too!!
    Great recipe but don’t want to waste the fruit!! Please could I have the marmalade recipe as well
    Many thanks
    Kind regards

  9. Jennie says:

    I have made both the cordial and the marmalade. Both very tasty, thankyou.
    For those wanting a recipe for the marmalade I found this website helpfull.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t quite understand this recipe or am I daft. 3 pints is hardly any – am I supposed to add more water at some stage or is a cordial meant to be diluted at the drinking stage.


  11. Edward says:

    Well John, that is down to your tastebuds – try it and see! You can dilute it as much or as little as you like. This recipe makes a potent brew and only requires 35 flower heads – a mature Elderflower bush will boast a few hundred…

  12. Christopher says:

    It did not say what ‘rough cut’ for the oranges and lemons meant. I scrubbed the oranges and lemons using washing up liquid and a brush. This was in an attempt to remove any insecticide or wax. Afterwords I Rinse them thoroughly to remove the detergent, cut the ends off the oranges/lemons and chopped them up. I assume that was correct, but you don’t want pith in your marmalade, so I assume that you need to process the fruit before making it and are the elder flowers included in the marmalade I wonder?

  13. dolores says:

    I was wondering if I was using dried elderflowers how much would I use instead. I am nearly out of cordial as most of my family have taken some home with them. dried elderflower can be bought at most home brew shops.

  14. Julian says:

    Just an update on the keeping qualities of this elderflower cordial recipe – we have just found and opened a forgotten bottle of the 2007 vintage, and it tasted as good as ever. I always add campden tablets to the mix, which may help, but it is good to know that the stuff lasts.

    It would be interesting to know if other people have the same experience we do – we make more every year (and unless we lose a bottle of 2007) we finish the lot earlier every year.

    In 2009, we made 80 litres and, two months later, we only have 40 left – I think it is like having a swimming pool or tennis court – you suddenly discover friends you never knew you had….

  15. Nicolette says:

    Thank you so much for the recipe, I’m hoping to make this for my summer wedding, but I’d like to try it once before then. Do you have any idea if this can be done with dried elderberries and what the measurements might be?



    1. Edward says:

      Hi Nicolette,
      Yes you can use dried elder flower heads, though I’ve never tried it myself – I’m guessing that you’d use the same amount of flower heads either way. I remember my granny saying that 2 tablespoons of a fresh plant was equal to 2 teaspoons of it dried if they were all chopped up.
      I’d err on the side of plenty – that way, the worst that will happen is that you end up with a really strong cordial that just needs more diluting.


  16. samuel ricchio says:

    I was given a bottel of your elderflower cordial last week end and it is so much better than the stuff u get in the shops

    will definately be making it this june

    4 sure


  17. Dee says:

    I made, for the first time last year, elderflower cordial using the recipie from the ash ridge trees website. It just tasted fantastic and was a huge hit with my family and friends. I did freeze some in a litre bottle which we drank at Christmas. That was summer… The taste had not been altered in any way.
    So I am now keen to start this years batch and will be making enough to see us through the year!

  18. Lys says:

    I made a batch using another recipe and it was good but I like the look of your recipe and have started off this afternoon. The water and sugar do not cover the flowers! Do you think I have too many, I used 35 heads, should I make up more water, sugar and citric acid and add it to the mix? By the way I found a bottle of apple juice (homemade) at the back of the larder, tasted it and after 2 years it has matured wonderfully!!

    1. Edward says:

      Sounds fine, smoosh it around a bit to make sure it all mixes in. Did you use campden tablets for the apple juice?

  19. Jo says:

    Made this cordial for the first time last year. Got three bottles out of 1 x this recipe. I had to treat it like gold dust as it was Sooooo delicious! We only opened the bottles on special occasions. So this year I have just bottled 3 x the recipe and have nine wonderful bottles to last me a little longer and I may just share some with friends! Our Elders are still flowering profusely, so all the flowerheads now coming out are going towards trying out the Champagne recipe.
    Oh last year I had harvested the fruit before I found the flower recipe and have just filled thirty bottles worth of red elderberry wine to die for from another recipe on this site, we chill it before drinking as it has a light feel to it and it is a perfect accompanyment to everything.
    I would recommend everyone buys at least two elder’s and get planting now as they are such a bargain when you balance them against the varied recipes you can make. However if you dont have the space, the flower heads can be found along many country roads, woodlands and hanging over the odd fence in the UK!

    The first year I made the cordial I used the disguarded oranges and lemons to make a wonderful home made marmalade. This year I juiced the cordial soaked O & L, skins and all, and made a tub of intense sorbet. There is no waste with this shrub/tree!

  20. Meabh says:

    Just wondering if i leave it for about 36 hours to infuse will it still be nice??

    1. Edward says:

      Hi Meabh,
      Try it and see, but there is plenty of infusion time involved in this recipe.

  21. Meabh says:

    Oh and if there is no sun, are they still ok to pick??

    1. Edward says:

      Not sure what you mean? They are ready to pick when they smell good, have some buttery yellow colour but before they begin to lose their petals. At the time of writing, this is pretty much now.

  22. Becca says:

    Hello there!

    I made one batch a couple of weeks ago and it was great, very simple! I decided to make the most of the last of the elderflowers around where I live and ended up with enough to make another two batches.

    BUT. Around where I live pharmacies have stopped stocking citric acid and I only got enough for one batch before making it. I thought it would be ok if I made up the two lots at the same time and then added the citric acid at the end but this batch has been strange – it smells slightly different (not so nice) and it is taking FOREVER to strain (about three times as long). Is there a reason for this? Plus, it tastes more lemony than elderflower now I’ve added the citric acid. Will it mellow or is that it? It’s a bit disappointing but you live and learn I suppose!

    1. Edward says:

      Hi Becca,

      You can buy citric acid online easily enough in 500g bags. Smell can vary alot with the flower heads – fresh heads don’t loose petals when you shake them, but slightly immature heads don’t have a full scent. Is straining taking longer because filters are clogged? Hard to say with final flavour, many variables!


  23. Pingback: Elderflower Cordial, The Taste Of Summer « Aran Brew
  24. Eira says:

    I have made some cordial and it has started fizzing. Is it too late to add a camden tablet and to re bottle it in to bottles that can take the pressure. It tastes fantastic.Any help much appreciated as i really don’t know what to do.

    1. Edward says:

      Hi Eira,
      To be honest, I really don’t know – we use Campden tablets in almost all our batches & the ones that don’t have it get drunk in no time. Sorry! My guess is that yes, a tablet will probably stop further fermentation.

  25. Leona says:

    19th June 2011

    I have been making this for a couple of years now and sooooo many of my friends have had the recipe off me. I made 4 times the recipe and was a bit worried coz the fruit had gone mouldy – nearly tipped the lot out but have carried on… think it is one of the best!!!! The mould may have added something!!

  26. Eira says:

    Thank you for getting back to me. I haven’t put in a campden tablet but have put it into sparkling water bottles. I shall be making more and will try with the campden tablet. Thanks again and I shall let you know how I get on.

  27. Meabh says:

    hi, does anybody know if you could make cordial or champagne with cultivated pink Elderflowers, or would it not work? would like to try and make it as i think there would be a nice pink colour!

  28. sarah says:

    Thanks for the posting on mouldy fruit Leona. After 48 hours the soakings were fine, after 72 some of the fruit has started to go mouldy in places, so thought I would check website before throwing away. So glad I did !

  29. stuart says:

    i have made a large batch this year,always use camden tablets and it keeps forever.however,some bottles (last batch) have gone a bit gassy this year and smell a bit off.Can I save it? or do I need to throw away? what do I need to add?

    1. Edward says:

      I dare you to drink some, Stuart. If you survive, let us know how it tasted.

  30. stuart says:


    1. Edward says:

      Better safe than sorry, I suppose – I’m sure the bacteria in your compost heap will appreciate it.

  31. Robin Tucker says:

    Can you please advise if you need to use the flowers from the Common Elderberry or whether you can also use Guincho or Purple Elder flowers. They are still Sambucus Nigra.

    1. julian says:

      Elderflower Cordial Recipe

      Hi Robin

      I have to be honest and say that when making elderflower cordial we have never tried with anything other than common elder, so I am just not qualified to comment.


  32. Ann says:

    Hi Robin, Yes you can use the flowers from the purple elder, you just get pink elderflower cordial. it’s one of the plants I’m keen to buy and grow just for this purpose.
    On a slightly different note, has anyone tried elderflower cordial made with dried elderflowers. I have a dehydrator and it dries them in only two or three hours so have been experimenting. They seem to keep their colour too unlike freezing when they went brown ;-( if it works and the indications are that it should then there will be no need for campden tablets, I can make it any time. Any one’s experience gratfully accepted.

  33. Lisa says:

    Brilliant! I love this elderflower cordial recipe. Thanks for so much info on this site. I have made notes on bottling, storage etc. A great source of info.

  34. Rachel says:

    Hello, I’m really excited about making this cordial! Just wondering, as I want to make a few batches, but sunny days are few at the moment, can I pick the flowers on a warm day but keep some to use a few days later when the first batch is ready, or do I have to hope there are still flowers by the next time the sun comes out and do it on the same day that I pick them? Thank you.

  35. Jane says:

    Hi Ann – I don’t know about making elderflower cordial from dried flower heads – but when I was a child – that is over 50 years ago – my Grandmother always make elderflower champagne for all the grandchildren to drink – we never had any commercial drinks! In order to keep a good supply all year round – she would pick the flower heads and dry them in the sun on newspaper – and store them in brown paper bags in the bottom of the airing cupboard. Grandma would then be able to make the champagne whenever needed – and if when making it she realised she did not have enough sugar in the house – she would substitute the sugar with a pot of homemade raspberry jam – then we would have pink champagne! Sooooo – I do not see why you could not do the same for the cordial – just have a go!!

  36. christine says:

    I have made this recipe several times with great success but this year it has gone ‘gloopy’. Any ideas why and can I rescue it?

  37. Cherie says:

    I too have a dehydrator and it never occurred to me to use it for drying elderflowers. Can i ask what setting you use.

  38. fatherheart says:

    Hi Jane,
    Best to pick on a sunny warm day, but the elderflower start to go over even on wet or cloudy days ( At a slower rate) so check the elderflower (ef) heads and if they are ripe as described above then pick them into cloth bags.
    When at home put in a plastic container with small holes in and cover the top with muslin cloth for two hours to allow the bugs to escape & water to drip out (leave room for air to move underneath
    If you have no time to make then put in clear plastic bags in the freezer until you have time to do them (Max 6 months).
    The ef heads should all be open with no unopened balls especially if green, do not cut off the balls but leave them to ripen, but take the ripe flowers off the same stem.
    Try to remember to allow the bugs to come out
    by putting ef heads in the plastic box with very small holes (veg box) with Curtain or muslin cloth covering the heads, (place this outside in the garden)
    I use the above recipe & it makes very good cordial,
    If you do not like so much sugar then use Unrefined sugar (Billingtons Raw golden sugar) and only use half the amount listed.
    enjoy and get busy as last two days have been warm & sunny.

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  40. karen pemberton says:

    I have made three batches of this wonderfull cordial. Two have turned out ok but the third has started to go fizzy can I do anything to rectify this if not can I add it to my elderflower champagne that is fermenting nicely.

  41. karen pemberton says:

    I think the reason the cordial starting fizzing was because I left it on the kitchen worksurface, I think it was a bit warm in the kitchen, now I’ve put it in the fridge it’s fine.

  42. Ben says:

    Best Elderflower Cordial Ever.

  43. Ben says:

    No really, it’s delicious! Dunno what everybody means when they ask for the marmalade recipe, though.

  44. Ben says:

    Elderflower cordial recipe. It’s the best my
    Superb tongue
    Ever. it’s
    Excellent but trying to eat the slop was a
    Rash idea.

  45. Phil says:

    what a great recipe for elderflower cordial, thanks for sharing

  46. Chris says:

    A good friend gave me this recipe this month.

    Just about to bottle our third batch. The Elderflower trees here in New Zealand are overflowing with flowers at the moment (November) and I’m going to pick more tomorrow.

    It really is the best cordial ever.

  47. Kim Dodden says:

    This is def the best. My third year now. Recipe works every time

  48. Dee says:

    Opened my last bottle of elderflower cordial last week having made enough to supply my family and friends for the past year. All tasted lovely with very positive feedback too. I did use camden tablets an kept my supply in the cupboard under the stairs.
    So I am keen to make some more and see the heads appearing in the hedgerows now but where is the sun?

    Any guidance with picking the heads on these grey damp days? It is such a gamble with the weather.

  49. Becca says:


    I just came to take the elderflower and oranges/lemons out of the cordial and the cordial has gone SLIMEY. It hasn’t ever done this before. I was away this weekend so unfortunately it has had a day over 72 hours in the mix, does this mean it has been ruined? Can I still bottle and drink it?

  50. Cecilia Baird says:

    Thank you so much -I agree with everything that has been said about the loveliness of this elderflower cordial recipe. Just made this year’s batch and am about to bottle it and hopefully make more as the season (& sun) continues. I’ll try the marmalade too. Sounds scrumptious! Elderflower champagne ( someone else’s recipe as I haven’t seen yours) started at the same time too but that hasn’t started, perhaps I shouldn’t have put all the sugar in at once.

  51. Katy says:

    This is the 3rd year I have made this – previous years have been fine and stored in the cupboard very well. This year’s are all going fizzy in the bottles, even though I have used camden tablets. Should I add more or should I leave it? Pity as have made 5 lots!!!

  52. Cosmo says:

    This homemade elderflower cordial recipe is simply delicious. This is the second year I have made it and I think it is far better than any high street cordial. If you like a summer drink then you just have to make this!!!

  53. Helen Fletcher says:

    I make the cordial using your recipe every year, it’s lovely! Do you have a recipe for elderberry cordial and/or wine? Could you also send me your recipe for the marmalade please?

    1. Catherine Young says:

      Hi Helen

      Here is the link to the Elderflower Syrup recipe
      The marmalade recipe seems to have been lost in the mists of time…

  54. Claire Callaghan says:

    What weight of dried elderflowers would you use to make this recipe, does anyone know?

  55. Gill says:

    How do I work out how much sweetener instead of all sugar please

  56. Ralph Barker says:

    First time I have ever made Elderflower cordial this year. I used this recipe and it has turned out brilliantly.
    Also used the lemons & oranges to make marmalade as it seemed such a waste to throw them out. I added some of the cordial to the marmalade at it really has a great taste.
    Next year it will have to be a go at the champagne.

  57. Janet says:

    This is a 2023 update, very much into the city of the previous blogs. Just making a x 3 batch. Wondering about the tiny insects walking out of the flowers. Have rinsed and shaken every floret but still tiny bugs. Am guessing they will be sieved later through the muslin? Yikes, poor little things!!!

    1. Ashridge Nurseries says:

      Hi Janet, I expect they are aphids or a smaller mite perhaps? I am sure that they are more worried about you than vice versa: this is not a good time to be those particular bugs!

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