Elder flowers make a beautiful, light and refreshing summer cordial. It is great fun to go out and collect,  just make sure you take a bag with you, pick away from any kind of pollution and do not over pick.  Scroll down for a PDF of this instructions to print and a video tutorial on how to make Elderflower Cordial at home. Thank you to Nyrees Titchener of The Wild Wood Emporium and Bramble Permaculture for this tutorial and instructions.


Its common name is of course the Elder tree and its Latin name is Sambucus nigra, the harvesting season is May to October as once the flowers die it grows beautiful berries which can also be collected for jams and drinks. It is used in herbal medicine for respiratory problems, including bronchitis, coughs, congestion, sinus, flu and sore throats.


Description – The Leaves are ovate and toothed, the flowers are large umbels of frothy off-white to cream, small flowers growing from April to June. Its habitat is parks, hedgerows, woodland, gardens, in fact elders will grow almost anywhere given sufficient light. Elder is prevalent, the leaves have an unpleasant smell as can the flowers and when left in a bag for a short length of time smell very like cats urine! So be sure not to store for too long before you make your drink.


15 Elder Flower heads

900ml boiling water

600g White granulated sugar

2 unwaxed lemons



Glass bottles with lids, sieve, muslin cloth, bowl, jug, saucepan, labels



  • Gather 15 heads of elder flowers – gather in a place away from any kind of pollution eg. Cars or areas that have been sprayed with weedkiller
  • At home leave aside for any insects to escape, then wash and cut off the stems.
  • Sterilize your bottles by washing in hot water and drying in the oven on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Grate your lemon rind and mix with the boiling water in a saucepan add the sugar and place on the hob. Bring to the boil and stir till all of the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
  • Cut the lemons into slices and add to the pan along with the elder flowers. Mix it all together making sure all the elder flowers are pushed below the water. Cover with a tea towel and leave to steep for 24 hours out of direct sunlight.
  • After 24 hours takes your jug, sieve and muslin place the muslin in the sieve over the jug and pour the contents of the pan through to strain it into the bowl.
  • Decant into your bottles put the lids on and add your labels, store in the fridge


To serve add a small amount to a glass and top up with water, you could also mix it with other drinks. The cordial should last around three weeks once opened.The flowers have a sweetish taste, lovely with the addition of ice cubes and chopped fruit.

After all that work sit back and enjoy your fresh home-made cordial.

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