Elderflower citrus cordial

I had never heard of elderflowers before moving to the UK, but here it features amongst the top local culinary delights. You can buy elderflower presse, elderflower liqueur, elderflower cordial … and they all have a lovely mellow flavour. But then I decided to make my own cordial last year (loosely based on Sarah Raven’s recipe) with oranges, lemons and limes. And oh my – this elderflower citrus cordial was SO good! I use a lot less sugar than most recipes call for, so I freeze mine in smaller portions to preserve it. PS: do try this delicious cake with the solids after you’ve strained the syrup…


Elderflower cordial with citrus

Makes about 1.5 litres

750g unrefined cane sugar
1.2 litres water
2 oranges (organic where possible)
2 limes (organic where possible)
2 lemons (organic where possible)
20 – 25 large head elderflower, flowers only (stems discarded)
2 teaspoons citric acid, optional


  1. Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and heat over gentle heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. In the meantime, thinly pare one each of the citrus fruits, and thinly slice all of them. Remove any pips and place zest and slices in a large stainless steel or heat proof ceramic bowl. 
  3. Shake the elderflowers to remove any bugs and other debris, but don’t wash them, as that might dilute the flavour. Add them to the sugar water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then pour the hot liquid over the sliced and pared citrus fruits. Cover and allow to infuse at room temperature for 24 hours. 
  4. Finally strain the syrup through a muslin cloth and pour into sterilised glass bottles. The syrup will keep for several weeks in the fridge and for years in the freezer. If you do decide to freeze it, do leave enough room in your bottle to allow for expansion.
  5. If you are planning on making the cake below, reserve the citrus slices and zest and a couple of the elderflowers for the mixture.


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