Fresh Elderflower Cordial

Summer weather has arrived! One of the pleasures of this time of year is sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon with a cold, refreshing drink of elderflower and sparkling water with ice.

Even better when the elderflower cordial is fresh and home made from the blossoms on local trees. I can’t claim any credit for this as it is my wife Lesley who makes it for us. Over to Lesley for a guest post, on how to forage for and make fresh elderflower cordial:


I enjoy watching what is in season in the hedgerow at different times of the year. This was particularly true during lockdown, when the only thing to do was cycle or walk around local footpaths.

In May, Elderflower trees burst into blossom, looking very pretty and with quite a distinctive smell. The scent is the sure-fire way of telling that you have got the correct creamy white umbilifers.  It’s a little bit musty and lemony and definitely light and summery.

Collect the ones that are just bursting out into flower. A tree or hedgerow on a quiet lane, with no passing vehicle traffic, is ideal. I snip the heads with scissors and put them into a canvas bag inside my backpack. The scent when you open it up is incredible!

Take about 20 flower heads, inspect them first and reject any with little beasties. Heat about a litre of water with 400g of any type of sugar in a pan till it dissolves. Grate the rind of 3 or so lemons or limes, and add to the pan with the squeezed juice. Dunk the elderflower heads into the water and leave to infuse overnight.

It’s a really sticky mixture, so take care when pouring it. Strain the liquid into a suitable container (I use a tea towel lining a funnel) and store in the fridge. You should have just over a litre of clear, honey coloured cordial.

To make up a drink, dilute with water approx 1:2 or to your taste, and add a few ice cubes (see main photo above). I love to use carbonated water.

You can also pour some of the cordial into ice cube trays to store and freeze for later. 

As a guest contributor to A Different Kitchen, I get to add a favourite track to Kevin’s Playlist. We go to gigs these days with teams of producers co-ordinating amazing light shows and technical rigs for sound and effects. I have been looking back at 1960’s bands performing live, when things were very different. An amazing example is the Rolling Stones performing Sympathy for the Devil, live for over 8 minutes with John Lennon  amongst others watching on – raw and so obviously talented.