Ah, it’s that time of year again – elderflower season, which means elderflower cordial. A precious window of numbered weeks, usually beginning around early June, when the vibrant green shrubs lining our farmland are transformed into a sea of tiny white clustered flowers.

If you’re being super technical, its official name is sambucus nigra – known simply as elder. Flowers blossom in late spring, followed by elderberries towards the end of summer. Like several wild perennials that we forage, elderflower is an incredibly versatile shrub, of which its floral flavour can be preserved in so many ways, from elderflower cordial and syrup to sugar, cold-infused oil, and even vinegar.

Foraging Elderflower

Elderflower is best foraged on a dry, sunny day, when the flowers smell fresh and floral and are dusted in pale yellow pollen. Bring secateurs to trim the heads from the shrub and a basket to carry them in. Ensure you trim as much of the stalk as possible (elderflower shrub can be very mildly toxic). And as always, make sure to not over-forage, leaving some to be enjoyed by wildlife and so that its flowers are bountiful for next year’s season too.

The Ultimate Elderflower Cordial Recipe (Makes 2 Litres)


1kg sugar

1kg water

40g citric acid

215g elderflower flowers, picked from the heads

  1. Add the sugar, water and citric acid to a large pan and bring to the boil
  2. Remove from the heat, add the elderflowers and leave to infuse until the cordial is cold.
  3. Store in a fridge-safe container, such as an airtight glass bottle, and enjoy mixed with sparkling water at a 1:4 ratio. Consume within one month.