Posted by: learningwoman | June 27, 2008

Cordial recipes

I just remembered I was going to write about our cordial-making fun. So here it is;

Mum rang to tell me she was making gallons of elderflower cordial for a fund-raising event, that she’d found a recipe and it was easy, so I should make some with the kids.


Elderflower Cordial- A Sophie Grigson Recipe


20 heads of elderflower

1.8kg granulated sugar or caster sugar

1.2 litres water

2 unwaxed lemons (or an orange and a lime)

75g citric acid


1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.

2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

4. The next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new j-cloth rinsed out in boiling water) and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard, ready to use.

Cooks Notes: To serve Elderflower Cordial: Dilute the elderflower cordial to taste with fizzy water and serve over ice with a slice or two of lemon, or a sprig of mint floating on top[. For something a touch more sprightly, add a shot of gin or vodka and a lemon slice, or add it to white wine and sparkling water to make an elderflower spritzer.

Elderflower  Cordial is also brilliant in recipes such as goosberry fool, and in a vinaigrette-mix with wine vinegar, a touch of mustard, pepper and a light olive oil. (surprisingly good with a courgette, lettuce and broad bean salad) You might even try adding it to a marinade for chicken breasts. Try it in sorbets, ice-creams, or just spooned over scoops of vanilla ice-cream, or use it to sweeten and flavour the fruit for a crumble.  


Right, looks easy enough, and it is, once you have all the ingredients….

I took S. and Z. on a mission to the park, to collect elderflowers. We had a plastic bag and loads of enthusiasm. In retrospect, I should have bought the citric acid first, but I hadn’t. Sigh..  🙂

There were elderflower trees aplenty in the park but the flowers were so high up and the branches were so thin, we couldn’t reach them, even when S. tried to climb the fence next to one of them. We got some, about eight heads but not the twenty we needed. We were just standing, looking up into the branches of a tree, trying to find some devilishly clever and previously un-thought of way of collecting the flowers high above our heads, when an old lady who lives down the road from us came past.

“Is it a squirrel?” she asked, squinting and twisting her neck to see into the branches.

I explained what we were doing and miraculously, it turned out that she had tons of the stuff in her garden and her daughter was, even as we spoke, pruning them ruthlessly. She gave us the number of her house and told us to ask her daughter for as many flowers as we wanted. Fabulous!

By the time we got home, we had more flowers than we needed and we’d had a fun time adventuring too. Now all we needed was the citric acid, which you can buy from any chemist or health-food shop. Or can you?

Over the next two days, I visited seven pharmacies, three health food shops and a cake decorating shop and still came up with nothing. Frustrated, I asked the latest chemist why citric acid was proving so elusive?

Guess what? Apparently, it can be used in the production of street narcotics and as one of the ingredients of bomb-making!

“But I only want to make Elderflower cordial!” I wailed, thinking of our hard won flowers beginning to wilt in the fridge.

At the eighth chemist, I found the citric acid, it was as exciting as if I’d discovered a new planet! It came in little 50g boxes and although I immediately wanted to buy all of them, I didn’t. Just in case I was red-flagged or something.

With all the ingredients to hand, it was only a short time before we had them steeping satisfyingly in the large bowl. The next day, we strained the cordial, and poured it into glass bottles. (obtained by buying and drinking large quantities of Appletiser and boil-washing the bottles.)

Since then we’ve also made Lemon and Ginger cordial by substituting the ginger for the elderflowers. Very yummy.





  1. That sounds like a cool thing to do. Thanks for doing the hard work first and finding out about the citric acid. I will don dark glasses and creep down to the chemist this weekend!

  2. in daily life we need 2 make happy our self and other fun is good for health and this is very good

    u can take more fun on

  3. Perhaps a trenchcoat would make you look even more inconspicuous Katy? 🙂

  4. Thanks Fahad, I like the idea of the coloured bubble painting on your site.

  5. I agree. And maybe a trilby. I’ve been practicing talking out of the side of my mouth as well, but I look more like Elvis than anything else!

  6. […] neighbours.  I have been spying on the neighbours since Sunday and it is all my blogging friend learningwoman’s fault.  A few days ago she wrote a blog entry about making elderflower cordial with her children […]

  7. From what I’ve heard, cordials are mildly alcoholic. Is this one? I’m planning to make some for the first time in the next week.
    Thanks for posting this!

  8. Hi Julia, as far as I know, this cordial is alcohol-free. Have fun making it. 🙂

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