How to make elderflower cordial and wine

How best to make elderflower cordial and wine - those most delicious of summer drinks



The English summer is said to start when the elder blossoms and end with its ripening berries. The citrus aroma floating down country lanes also heralds a bountiful harvest for the forager and home-brewer.

Diluted with water or lemonade, served with lemon and mint, elderflower cordial is just the thing for a summer’s day. It can also make a refreshing sorbet or tasty gin mixer.

When to pick elderflowers to make cordial:

The flowers taste best picked early on a dry, hot day, and speed is crucial: they should be used straight after picking.

Which elderflowers make the best cordial:

The cream-coloured heads (or umbels) are tastier than the white, and don’t worry if they smell unappetising at first once they’re infused, the heady scent is delicious.

Choose umbels free of discolouring and keep them dry until you’re ready to begin to make elderflower cordial.


How to make elderflower cordial

An easy one to make, it’s best consumed within two weeks, although it’ll keep for a month if bottled and can be frozen in plastic bottles (leave some space, as the liquid expands)



20 elderflower heads

2½ pints boiling water

3½lbs sugar

1 sliced lemon 2tsp

Citric acid (available from the chemist)


Put all the dry ingredients into a clean pan and pour boiling water over them. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Skim off the surface scum. Cover with a cloth or lid. Stir twice daily for five days. Strain through a muslin and bottle.



How to make elderflower ‘Champagne’

A summer drink similar to elderflower pressé


8 large elderflower heads

2 gallons water

2½lbs sugar

4 lemons

4tbsp mild white wine vinegar


Dissolve the sugar in boiling water, leave to cool and add the elderflowers, the juice of two of the lemons, slices of the other two and the vinegar. Cover with a cloth and leave for a day. Strain with a fine sieve or muslin, squeezing the flowers. Store in screw-top bottles. It’ll be ready in about a fortnight and should be drunk within a month.



How to make elderflower wine


1 pint elderflowers (destalked)

8 pints boiling water

3lbs sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 lemon

½oz yeast


Add lemon rind to the elderflowers, pour boiling water over them and stand for four days, stirring occasionally. Strain through a fine sieve or muslin, then stir in sugar, lemon juice and yeast. Ferment at room temperature (not below 18?C). When the bubbling has ceased, stir the wine and allow to settle for three days. Strain again carefully. Put in a demijohn to mature for three months, then bottle.


The folklore of the elderflower

  • One name for it is the Judas Tree, as it was thought to be the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from
  • To fell a tree without suitable protection could free a spirit called the Elder Mother to take her revenge
  • The elderflower was said to be a protection against witches, and a knotted twig kept in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism
  • Elderflowers were apparently never struck by lightning, and a cross of elder fastened above stables would protect the animals from evil Medicinal benefits
  • Elderflower cordials and elderberry wines are high in vitamins A, B and C
  • In A Modern Herbal of 1931, Mrs Grieves recommends an elderflower infusion, taken hot before bed, as a remedy for colds and throat trouble
  • Mrs Grieves swears by elder leaves as an insect deterrent. The foul-smelling bruised leaves around tender plants and buds prevent attack by aphids and cater-pillars, and gardeners can add a sprig to their hatband to ward off midges
  • Medical herbalist Christine Houghton says a daily elderflower infusion, made with fresh flowers, is helpful in preventing hay fever






Last albums

See all
ARTON PROGRAM - Music therapy
See album

ARTON PROGRAM - Music therapy

In ARTON sessions, creating a piece of music or a song is an emotional experience of coping and satisfaction for the participating children. They make friends with...