How to Make Elderflower Cordial – Foraging with my Daughter

My Darling Girl is very outnumbered in our house so we head off together whenever the opportunity arises for a bit of a potter. Last week she had an inset day when the boys did not so we headed off to Bradford-on-Avon for a wander by the river and canal and to forage for flower heads to make elderflower cordial. The hedgerows are heavy with these beautiful creamy blooms at the moment so get out there a gathering before they’re gone for another year! She got away without stinging her nose on that nettle here but did sting her finger! A quick spit on a dock leaf soon sorted that.

Picking Elderflower

Elderflowers are best picked on a sunny day at their creamy white best, avoid picking any which are browning.

Foraging for Elderflower

We had such a wonderful walk. Pottering along picking flowers and watching the wildlife on the canal. A heron obligingly dived for a fish and this Mamma duck paddled by showing off her brood. When she was little one of our favourite reads was Daisy and the Egg and we imagined this Mamma and her little paddler to be us.


We drooled over the autumn hedgerow possibilities as there was a plethora of blackberry flowers and wild roses!

wild roses

We stopped for lunch at our favourite canal side eatery in Bradford on Avon. I love spending time alone with each of my children, they are all so different, I like them as people and they make me laugh.


Once home we made a batch of elderflower cordial. Making cordial is one of those year markers for me; if I don’t manage to gather elderflowers I feel a bit bereft!

How To Make Elderflower Cordial

This year we had a bash at the recipe in Yeo Valley’s new Great British Farmhouse Cookbook and it turned out a treat! You’ll need to collect together about 40 elderflower heads, 3 lemons, 1.5kg granulated sugar and 50g citric acid.

  • Shake the elderflower heads to dislodge any little bugs, try not to rinse it as it bruises the flowers and affects the taste
  • Put them into a large pan (I use my preserving pan), add the grated zest of the lemons and then the lemons themselves thinly sliced.
  • Put the sugar and 1.2 litres of water into a pan and bring to the boil, slowly. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Stir in the citric acid (I buy mine in our wholefood shop, Boots and other chemists sell it too) and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour the sugar syrup over the elderflowers and lemon and then leave the whole brew somewhere cool for 24 hours to steep
  • Strain through a sieve lined with muslin and bottle in sterilised bottles
  • Seal and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months

elderflower cordial

Dilute to taste with still or fizzy water or use in marvellous recipes such as this Elderflower and Gooseberry Ice Cream over on Life is Delicious!


  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time together, and thanks for sharing the recipe. I know what you mean about year markers – I feel like that about blackberry picking in the woods behind our house.

    • Me too! It starts with wild garlic, onto elderflowers then blackberries, rosehips, sloes…. :-)

  2. What a wonderful way to spend time together. I’ve never tried to make elderflower cordial before but I’m truly tempted now! Looks like you have captured some Summer sunshine in those glasses – delicious!

    • You’re right! It is Summer in a glass! :-)

  3. I’m so glad you use the same basic recipe as I do – I just read someone else’s recipe and it was horrendously complicated and took 3 days! I started to panic that I had been doing it wrong for years!

    I’m going to have to forage for my elderflowers next year. We did have a tree overhanging into our garden, but it was taking over my neighbours garden, so they have just cut it down (thank goodness I’d already made this year’s batch).

    • Something this delicious needs no complicating! It does annoy me a bit when people make things look harder than they are because it puts people off!

  4. Such beautiful pictures!

    I adore Elderflower, but totally missed them this year. I’ll just have to wait for the berries :0)

    • Thanks Liz! You will! I’m watching them swell, ready to pounce!

  5. Sounds like a perfect day out together. With a delicious end result! I might need to sample some!,

    • If there was any left I would pour you a long cool glass my lovely! xxx



  1. Family Days - share yours | Mums do travel: a family travel site - [...] loved the post about the mother and daughter foraging expedition at Thinly Spread - the recipe for elderflower cordial looks like …

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