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Bottles of home-made elderflower cordial

Elder (Sambucus nigra), is a common British tree that produces abundant, creamy white scented flowers in summer that can be used in cooking to add a fragrant flavour to drinks, teas and deserts.

For the ultimate in summer flavour, Elderflowers are most prized for use as a refreshing, delicious Elderflower cordial which is very simple to make at home. Add Elderflower cordial to drinks like cider or prosecco, or you can try making Elderflower Fizz, a slightly bubbly, alcoholic version.

Remember to ensure you have the landowner's permission before you forage, and only take the minimum for your requirements. Always check, check and double check you have correctly identified a plant as edible!


Make sure you pick the Elderflowers on a sunny, dry day and use them as soon as possible whilst they are still fresh to make the cordial.

Newly opened flowers with a fresh fragrance will make the best cordial. We sniff each one as we pick to be sure! Some can smell pretty horrible! You get to know the best bushes after a while.

Shake off or remove any insects and give them a chance to escape after picking. Do not wash the Elderflowers as this will remove the sweet, tasty pollen.

Make sure you have correctly identified the correct tree, leaves and flowers before picking! You do not want to confuse the umbellifer like flower of the Elder with other umbellifer species!

Before use, snip the Elderflowers off the stalks with scissors – you want to keep the stalk content to a minimum.

Elder flowers ready to pick


  • Approximately 15-20 Elderflower heads

  • 650ml water

  • 2 lemons and/ or lemon juice

  • 300g sugar or honey We find this ratio far too sweet and do not need to preserve it for months, so we use less. You can add sugar, honey or other alternatives to suit your taste.


  • Bring the water to boil in a pan and add the elderflowers, lemon zest and lemon juice.

  • Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring, then take off the heat, cover and infuse to infuse (ideally overnight).

  • Strain through a jelly bag or fine sieve.

  • Put the strained juice back into the pan, bring to the boil, adding your honey/sugar to taste and keep stirring until it thickens. If you’d like it thicker or sweeter, add more sugar.

  • Once cooled a little, pour into sterilised bottles, and store in the fridge where it will keep for up to 3 months.

This recipe can also be used to make other hedgerow cordials such as Elderberry, Stinging Nettle, Blackberry etc.


If you'd like to discover more of nature's harvest, why not join one of our wild food and forage day workshops which run in Spring and Autumn.

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