July 08, 2013

Elderflower Cordial

Before I get into writing this post, I'm going to give you some nuggets of information on elderflower picking...not that I'm a pro or anything, but it may help you!

  1. Elderflower grows on an Elder tree and is not to be confused with cow parsley which grows low down in the hedgerows. It looks very similar to the elderflower but has a horrible flavour. So if in doubt, Google both plants before you go foraging. Thank God my mother informed me of the difference! Trust me, from a distance, they look like identical twins. 
  2. Make sure you pick elderflower on a quiet country road. This way it's less likely to be polluted. You'll see it growing beside busy roads, don't be tempted to jump out of the car to pick it.
  3. The elderflower will wilt rather quickly, so pick and use it as soon as possible, preferable on the same day. 
I think you're set to go. 

My mother and myself headed up to The Hill of Tara to forage for elderflower. We picked elderflower in a graveyard and hopped over a locked gate and into a derelict farmyard to get to the most ripe flower heads. I'm not going to lie, I felt bold. I'm such a wimp, but elderflower grows in the wild so it's fair picking for whoever wants it. Just don't hop into somebodies garden and pick theirs!

It was such a lovely day. The sun was shining and the countryside smelled sweet and heady with elderflower. Strolling along quiet country roads, lit with dappled lighting looking for big drooping elderflower heads was a chill and perfect way to spend a day off. 

You'll find the nicest elderflower heads up high on the trees. So bring someone tall with you or be willing to  elbow deep in leaves. Not ideal if you suffer from hay fever! It's a good idea to bring a pair of scissors and a plastic bag with you also. I almost forgot!

After the foraging, I came home, made the cordial, allowed it to infuse for 24 hours before diluting it with sparkling water and flavouring it with sliced cucumber, lime, lemon and blueberries!

It looks like the coming week in Ireland will be sunny so get out foraging and make some cordial or some lemonade!


Holly, x

You'll begin with elderflower for the cordial...all you need is the white flower heads. Remove them from the stem. Give them a good shake to remove any creepy crawlies and wash in a sink filled with cold water.

The next thing you need is lemons, zest and slice 'em. 

Place the lemon zest, lemon slices and elderflower in a big bowl. Pour over stock syrup (see recipe below) making sure everything is covered. Cover with a tea towel and allow to infuse for 24 hours. 


25-30 Elderflower Heads
500g Caster Sugar
3 Medium Lemons, zest and sliced into slices
1 1/2 Litres Water

Place the water and sugar in a pot and bring to the boil.
Once boiled, turn down the heat and wait for the sugar to dissolve. This will be a sugar syrup.
In the meantime, zest and slice the lemons.
Fill a sink with water.
Pull the elderflower heads from the stem and wash in the sink of water.
Place in a big pot or bowl and add the lemon zest and lemon slices. 
Pour over the sugar syrup. 
Cover with a lid or tea towel and allow to infuse for 24 hours. 
After 24 hours, place a clean tea towel over a sieve and strain the mixture. 
Pour the liquid into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
When ready to use, dilute with water/sparking water/Champagne/white wine/vodka or gin and soda water!

To Serve
Sparking water/Champagne/white wine/vodka or gin and soda water!
Thin slices of lemon, lime, cucumber and orange.
Berries, I used blueberries...strawberry and raspberries would be yummy!


  1. Hi Holly,

    I had Elderflower to drink this week for the very first time. You are right it is really delicious and so refreshing. The one I sampled had mint in it also which was a lovely addition. Will be heading for the hils to pick some of the flower. Noticed lots of the flower growing along the roadsides but taking your advise and heading for the hills to get some this weekend. Cheers!

    1. mmmm mint! hope you had fun elderflower picking in the hills!!