Recipe: Kristina’s Elderberry Cordial

elderberry cordial

Make the most of ripe elderberries with this lovely homemade cordial that will last up to two years. 

Recipe: Kristina Jensen

Use secateurs to cut the stalks with berries attached. In some parts of New Zealand, especially around Marlborough and Southland, elders grow along the roadsides but exercise caution as trees may have been sprayed. Store in bottles with plastic caps.

Time – 60 minutes
Makes – 2 litres


2-litre container of ripe elderberries
lemon rind
lemon juice
cinnamon stick


1. Place the elderberries in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on the pot.

2. Strain the elderberries through a muslin cloth, squeezing out all the juice.

3. Measure the juice and pour it back into the empty pot. For each cup of juice, add: 1 cup of sugar, a piece of lemon rind, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 2 cloves, 1 small piece of cinnamon stick

4. Bring the mixture to a boil for 15 minutes, stirring regularly to dissolve the sugar.

5. Scoop out the peel, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Let the cordial cool slightly while you wash your bottles in hot soapy water, rinse them and sterilise them in an oven set at 180°C for 10 minutes.

6. Pour cordial into bottles, and add a label to show the date you made it.


•  The easiest way to get the berries off the stalks is to use a fork and strip them off into a bowl. Remove unripe berries as you go (they are toxic). You need a 2-litre ice cream container of dark purple berries to get a reasonable quantity of cordial.

Cut the stalks with the berries attached, then use a fork to strip them off.

•  To get the maximum amount of juice from the berries, freeze them overnight. This breaks down the cell membranes so that the juice flows out easier.
•  This recipe may seem to contain an excessive amount of sugar, but it helps this cordial to last for up to two years. You only need a small amount to make up a glass, hot or cold. You can use honey instead of sugar, but it doesn’t last as well.
•  I freeze it in smaller plastic bottles if I make it with honey so that, once opened, it gets used up quickly before it goes fizzy.

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