Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Rosie Jameson’s Elderflower Recipes

Elderflower champagne? What a good idea! Who is in the mood to make delicate, non-alcoholic bubbly, one of the seasonal delights of early summer? There's still time to go for a ramble and take a wicker basket to forage your ingredients from mother nature's hedgerows and quiet lanes. Master preserver Rosie Jameson, founder of the Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers from Rosie Makes Jam, shares some of her favourite seasonal elderflower recipes and tips for making the most of the sprays of pretty elderflower, hanging in the hedgerows like clusters of creamy lace.

Rosie learnt how to preserve on her mother’s knee and she is passionate about passing on heritage preserving skills to others, emphasizing that it doesn’t take a lot of time, money, equipment or ingredients to enjoy making your own preserves at home. All of these foraged recipes take less than half an hour in preparation time. Rosie offers a wide range of online preserving classes via Zoom. Visit Rosie Makes Jam for more information.

Rosie Jameson, Queen of Jam Making and Preserving

Elderflower Champagne

Make your party pop with a bang!
Preparation time: 20 mins (allow soaking overnight)
Makes approx. 5 litres
Elderflower, Large heads - 6 each
Organic Lemons 2 each
Sugar, White granulated 25 oz / 700 g
Vinegar, White Wine 2 tbsp
Water 8 pints / 4.5 litre


Preparing the Elderflowers

Plastic bottles are better than glass because as the pressure builds up, the crimp at the bottom will pop out instead of the bottle breaking, and when the bottles fall over you know they are ready!
Do not wash or scald the flower heads as the wild yeasts needed for the fermentation will be lost.
Pick the flowerheads on a warm, sunny day in the morning, and use them straight away. Do not pick if the petals are beginning to drop.
Put the water into a large pan, add the sliced lemons and the flowerheads (shake any bugs off first ).
Cover the pan and leave for 24-36 hours
Strain the liquid through muslin into a clean pan or large bucket
Add the sugar and vinegar and stir to dissolve the sugar
Pour into your bottles and put the screw caps on but don't tighten. Leave the bottles somewhere you can keep an eye on them and after a few days, you should see signs of fermentation.

Store and  Let the Wild Yeast  Work their Magic

After a couple of weeks, the activity will have died down somewhat and the caps can be screwed down. Put the bottles somewhere safe away from people, pets, windows and heat. Even somewhere safe outside in the cool will be fine. They will be ready to use in another few days - just check the pressure by gently squeezing the bottles. Refrigerate before use - and open very carefully.

Take Care
Beware: The Fizz will continue to work in the bottles and will become more alcoholic and drier the older it is. Beyond three months it may be too dry but just make a note somewhere of your own preference. Check the pressure from time to time and loosen slightly to release the pressure a bit.

Elderflower vinegar

A beautifully fragrant vinegar, very easily made.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2-3 250ml bottles

Elderflower, Large heads - 15 each
Vinegar, White Wine - 1pint / 600 ml
Pick the flowers when in full bloom and snip flowers from the stalks.
Discard any insects!
Pack flowers into a clean jar then pour over the vinegar.
Close, and leave in a sunny place for 2-3 weeks.
When ready, strain through muslin and decant vinegar into bottles.
Seal, and store in a dry, dark cupboard.
It is delicious as a salad dressing mixed with a light oil, or try it as a drink - use like cordial diluted with sparkling, iced mineral water. Stupendous!

Elderflower Cordial

Light and refreshing, the classic flavour of Summer - barbeques, tennis parties, Summer weddings - make plenty.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Makes: 20 250ml bottles
Campden Tablet, buy from Homebrew Centres - 2 each
Sugar, White granulated - 2lb / 900 g
Lemon - 2 each
Elderflower, Large heads - 25 each
Citric Acid   - 2 oz / 50 g


Put the sugar into a large mixing bowl or pan and pour over 3 litres of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Leave to cool
Add the citric acid and Campden tablets, which act as a preservative, also slice the lemons and add to the pan
Shake the flower heads gently to get rid of any bugs and add to the liquid
Cover with a clean tea towel or cling film and leave for 24 hours to infuse, stir occasionally
Pour through a muslin lined sieve into a jug, then decant carefully into sterilised glass bottles and seal
Follow the instructions in the General Points to sterilise in the bottle if you want the cordial to keep for up to twelve months
Elderflower Cordial couldn't be easier to make, it takes so little time and effort for a truly stunning result - give it a try, then try and give it! ( You'll want to squirrel it away for summer parties - how about serving it at a wedding or al fresco lunch or supper, as a low alcohol spritzer?).

Rosie Makes Jam