Recipe: Angela’s Elderflower Cordial

This delightful cordial can be made into a refreshing beverage or added to other recipes, such as marmalade. 

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth  Recipe: Angela Clifford

If you fancy a spot of foraging and you do have trees in your area, you might be pleased with the range of foodstuffs you can make with elderflowers. North Cantabrian Angela Clifford, co-owner of The Food Farm and CEO of Eat NZ, makes elderflower cordial each year. It can be diluted with water and sipped as a refreshing beverage or it can be added to various recipes, such as marmalade.’

Before you begin, remove as many of the stems as possible from the flower heads.

Angela’s Elderflower Cordial

Makes: 3 litres
Prep time: 20 minutes


2kg sugar
3 litres water
25 elderflower heads (about a half a shopping bag)
2-3 lemons, juice and zest
1-2 oranges, juice and zest


Add the sugar and water to a pot and bring to the boil – stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Place the flower heads in a sterilised bucket or pot. Pour the sugar water over the flower heads, then mix in the zest (I use a peeler) and juice of the lemons and oranges.

Cover and set aside for 2-4 days in a cool room. You don’t want to see signs of fermentation such as bubbles or a slight alcoholic taste. I use a 5-litre carboy with an airlock just in case fermentation occurs (as it saves cleaning up the mess).

Strain, bring the syrup up to the boil, then pour into sterilised bottles

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Tips: How to stop it bubbling over

We sometimes accidentally make elderflower bubbly as well. There are amazing yeasts in the heads so they have a tendency to ferment, making it tricky if you don’t want them to.

They shouldn’t ferment using this recipe as the sugar level is low, but if you’re worried, keep the steeping process to just two days should help with that.

Store the finished cordial in the fridge. If it does ferment, don’t keep it as it’s too volatile to store safely.

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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