Delicious Homemade Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Published on May 19, 2020 | Last updated on Jan 2, 2023

Have you ever wondered how to make the most delicious Elderflower Cordial in the whole world? Well, wait no more! Today I want to share with you the recipe that created the most magical drink that (probably) ever existed 😋

Harvesting Elderflowers

First things first, make sure you know how to identify Elder (Sambucus nigra) correctly. If you’re a bit unsure, check out this page on how to easily identify elderflower.

collecting elderflowers to make elderflower cordial

Here in Portugal, Elder starts to flower around April/May. Ideally, the best time to harvest the flowers is in a dry and sunny morning, when the flowers are open and dry. I use a pair of scissors to carefully harvest them, choosing only the heads that are fully blooming. I avoid any heads with dry or closed flowers.

collecting elderflowers to make elderflower cordial

In the pictures, I used a box to collect the flowers because it was what I had available, but you can use a basket or other container. As you harvest the flowers, always keep them facing up in the container in order to keep as much as the pollen inside. The pollen plays a big role in giving a great flavour to your cordial, so don’t waste it!

collecting elderflowers to make elderflower cordial

This recipe requires quite a few elderflower heads, so what I did was to harvest them from a few different Elder shrubs instead of over-harvesting one single Elder. I believe this is a good practise whenever harvesting in the wild, because this way we are conscious about the Plant’s needs and well-being as well as of other beings that depend on her to live. Also, pollen from different Elder shrubs will enrich your cordial! Last but not least, do not take more than you need, harvesting only what you will actually use.

If you’d like to know more about ethical foraging, I found this page on responsible foraging guidelines particularly helpful and straight to the point 😊

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

This recipe is based on Da Horta para a Cozinha‘s recipe, with just a couple of adjustments. I managed to fill two glass bottles (as seen in the photo at the end of the article) plus a smaller plastic one (not captured in photo… it’s actually gone already 😄).


  • 45 elderflower heads (stalks removed)
  • 1,5 Kg of muscovado (or brown) sugar
  • 1,5 L of water
  • 1,5 big lemons


  • In a pot, add the sugar to the water. Heat it until the sugar is well dissolved. When it starts to boil, turn off the heat and let the syrup cool down;

Making elderflower cordial

  • Remove the green stalks from the flowers and, without washing them, check if there are any insects living in them. If so, remove them carefully and place them outside;

Making elderflower cordial

Making elderflower cordial

  • Cut the lemons in slices and then in smaller pieces;

Making elderflower cordial

  • Add the flowers (and any leftover of pollen) plus the lemon to the pot;

Making elderflower cordial

Making elderflower cordial

  • Mix everything together, cover it with a towel or similar, and let it macerate for 24 hours (mixing it once in a while during that time);

Making elderflower cordial

  • Sterilize the glass containers (and lids/corks) with boiling water;
  • If you plan to freeze the cordial, use plastic bottles instead;

Making elderflower cordial

  • On the next day, use a funnel plus a strainer to strain the cordial into the bottles;

Making elderflower cordial

  • Keep the bottles in a cool place or in the fridge. If you make a bigger quantity, you might want to consider freezing part of the batch.

There you go! You’ve made delicious Elderflower cordial!

elderflower cordial

Elderflower Cordial as refreshment

I’ve heard you can use it for many different things (e.g. desserts, ice-cream, etc), but my favourite is to drink it as a refreshment during the hot Summer here in Portugal. The cordial is highly concentrated, so we usually dilute it in water and it tastes amazing!

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it with your family and friends in the coming warmer months. If you give it a try, please share it with me in the comment section bellow or via instagram! I’d love to know how it goes and how you liked it ❤️ Also, if you’ve enjoyed this, make sure to check out my previous blog post all about fleshing a sheepskin here.

Much love and take care, Filipa 🌸

Making elderflower cordial

Hello there! My name is Ana Filipa Piedade and I am a portuguese hide tanner and ancestral skills student, practioner and teacher who finds a lot of joy in sharing about traditional living skills with others. I hope you enjoy this space!

Read more here »

» Sheepskin Tanning Guidebook «

In this guidebook, you will learn how to naturally fat tan your own hair-on sheepskin.

You will learn how to use natural fats, smoke, a few hand tools and a lot of elbow grease to transform a raw skin into a beautiful pelt that can be used in various leathercraft projects.

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» Living in Reciprocity with the Land «

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