Summer in Bottle: Elderflower Cordial

There are few things that say English summertime quite like a glass of homemade elderflower cordial with icy cold water and sliced lemon. Its tangy, botanical flavour is the perfect accompaniment to a sunny day, especially when paired with a sneaky tot of gin! Now that the summer months are upon us, I must confess to being something of an addict, and enjoying a chilled elderflower refresher most evenings.

I spent much of my childhood living in Southern Africa, where Elderflower cordial isn’t as readily available. Recently it’s started to grace a few supermarket shelves, but sadly the prices are extortionate. My industrious mother somehow managed to grow it in our Johannesburg garden, but the crop was very small and she only managed to eek out a few bottles a year. This liquid gold was to be savoured and reluctantly doled out on very special occasions.

Now that I live in Hampshire the abundance of elderflowers has me in a dual state of euphoria and panic. I’m always terrified that the season is going to rush by before I’ve had a chance to make my annual batch. I’m ashamed to say last year was blinkered by a missed opportunity. Thankfully I’ve been more organised this June. As soon as I spotted the delicate white flower heads I rushed out with a big basket and got to work making a giant pot to last the summer months.


1kg caster/granulated sugar
1½ litres of water
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 limes, thinly sliced
40g citric acid


Put 1½ litres of water and the sugar in a large saucepan, and heat gently to dissolve the sugar completely. Just as the sugary syrup comes to the boil remove from the heat.

Add the elderflower heads, sliced lemon and lime and the citric acid. Stir gently and then cover. Leave to infuse for 24 hours.

Strain the syrup into warm sterilised bottles with seals. It should last for a few months. Alternatively you can pour into plastic bottles and freeze for years.



The Feast


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