This elderflower cordial is such a refreshing drink, all naturally made, with no boiling involved, no citric acid added and it can be made fizzy by allowing it to naturally ferment. You can have it totally nonalcoholic or add some prosecco, gin or vodka to get the party started but then, it will no longer be cordial. Haha!
- How to make elderflower cordial?
- What is a cordial drink?
- Healthy elderflower cordial version
- Why is elderflower good for you?
- Is elderflower the same as elderberry?
- How and when to get the elderflower?
- What are the benefits of elderflower?
- What does elderflower taste like?
- Serving Suggestions
- Easy Elderflower Cordial
In Romania, this is a traditional mid-spring drink known as 'socată'. I've recently learned that Japan has adopted this naturally fermented Romanian beverage and it is sold in cans (Fanta Socata).
It is actually ridiculous how much I can say about this elderflower juice as we used to call it when we were kids, about this beverage recipe and about this beautiful white-yellowish edible flower called elderflower. I will keep it short and brief though.
It's definitely a drink I did not appreciate as a kid although my mum would make it every late spring/ early summer and kept on saying drink it, it is good for you. I was having it to please my mum but I never really fully enjoyed it.
How to make elderflower cordial?
The elderflower cordial is so simple to make and it contains just three main ingredients:
- Sugar - use a good quality cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or a low-calorie sugar if desired such as stevia, sucralose or any sweetener you may wish to use;
- Elderflower - nice and fresh blossomed heads, but can also be dried or frozen;
- lemon - juice, slices and rind can be used - also lime or ginger also be added.
- To these ingredients you add water, mix it all together and let it rest. Tada!!
I make this elderflower juice with either honey or brown cane sugar making it a little darker in colour but also a touch of caramel taste, which I find very pleasant. If you prefer a light colour, use caster sugar or acacia honey.
It is actually such a simple recipe to make.
Here are the three ingredients you will need to make this delicious and refreshing cordial drink.
What is a cordial drink?
Cordial, also known as squash, is a non-alcoholic concentrated syrup made from fruit, elderflower or ginger. We use it to flavour our drinks and water. A little splash of cordial really helps make a boring old gym bottle of water more interesting and appealing. A great option for a picnic or a party gathering.
This elderflower cordial version is a lot simpler, it contains all-natural ingredients and it involves no boiling/distilling.
My version is almost a fusion between cordial, juice and pop and it is ready to drink as it is, hence the lower sugar amount.
This is how my parents and grandparents used to make it and this is how I always make it too which might be a little different from the cordial drink you know. Definitely a healthier cordial option.
Healthy elderflower cordial version
A cordial drink is generally meant to have a high sugar concentration but my version is a far healthier one for six reasons:
- it's already diluted so it is low sugar, a ready to drink beverage;
- there's no citric acid but just natural lemon juice
- it is naturally fermented so it gets a natural fizz
- it also contains extra lemon juice (loads of Vitamin C) and it can also contain ginger
- my favourite version is the cordial I make with honey ( I add 2-3 tablespoons of honey for every 1 litre - 1.2 litre of water) as I do not like it super sweet.
- this version is one that naturally ferments the flowers - it's delicious!
Why is elderflower good for you?
They taste great, they look pretty, they are unique in taste, versatile and have many health benefits which I have enumerated (only a few) below.
Elderflowers can be utilised in many ways in our kitchens, just make the most of this natural wonder while it lasts or preserve some for later by drying or freezing them.
Is elderflower the same as elderberry?
Elderberries are of course the berries forming when the elderflower blossom ends. They are dark red and appear towards the end of the summer. The optimal time to harvest elderberries is when they are very dark in colour almost black in appearance at first sight. When they are light or dark green these are raw and known to be toxic. Elderberries have many great health benefits such as strong anti-viral properties and they are packed with vitamin A and C.
How and when to get the elderflower?
I was walking to the gym through the park today ( May Day) and I could see one or two elderflower heads starting to blossom here and there so, yay!
Elderflowers only bloom for a short period of time so keep an eye out for them in late spring/early summer in Europe and I am pretty sure it is the case with most places where elderflower bush grows. Here are some elderflower harvesting tips:
- harvest them when the bush is about two-thirds covered;
- pick them in the morning when they are at their best vigour;
- lay them on paper in a warm dry place to dry upside down which will help some of the bugs to come out too;
- don’t harvest these from bushes that are located near roads, motorways or industrial sites - go to less polluted areas like huge parks or friends' houses located in a nice country-side 😉
- always ask of course before taking
- don’t over-harvest as you will have no elderberries later.
What are the benefits of elderflower?
Some key elderflower health benefits include:
- Helps sinuses (reduces and stops runny noses as it has anti-catarrhal properties)
- Healthy blood supply
- Supports with detoxifying pathways (constipation)
- Used for fever
- Helps with making skin look better
- It has anti-inflammatory properties
The list can go on, these are just a few benefits and properties of elderflower.
It might well be one reason why I rarely have a cold, who knows? I definitely do enjoy this elderflower cordial now and I am so glad my kids love it too.
What does elderflower taste like?
Delicious and sophisticated.
Elderflower has an amazing and very unique taste. It tastes green, fresh, fruity, slightly floral and musky, with subtle pear, vanilla, lychee and some tropical notes. Mmmm, nice, right?
Because of its unique flavour, this traditional Romanian drink also inspired the American giant Coca-Cola, which launched an elderflower juice of Fanta Shokata
- serve on ice with a slice of sugar-glazed lemon
- add to a martini to make an elderflower martini
- add to gin to make an elderflower gin cocktail
- make an elderflower fizz mocktail
- make an elderflower cake with these flavourful edible flowers
- add a dash of gin, Martini, vodka or white wine if you want to turn this into an alcoholic drink and add a few frozen grapes too instead of ice ( this is to avoid diluting it but getting the full cooling effect
- this beverage is truly versatile, make an elderflower gin cocktail (recipe to follow), martini, spritz, lemonade, tonic, juice or even an elderflower tea.
- I sometimes add pineapple juice to sweeten it
Yes, just make sure you dry or freeze some elderflower blossom heads when it's in season (May- June in Europe), freshly picked and organically grown.
Drying elderflower blossoms
• Wash thoroughly the blossomed elderflower heads when foraged - allow these to dry by spreading them on a table at a distance on paper sheets.
When these are completely dry, place them in paper bags and place these in a dark, dry and cool place.
Once it begins to fizz, allow it to fizz to your liking, bottle it and refrigerate straight away. It will last for about a month (with this sugar concentration) if you add more sugar, it will last longer!
You may even freeze it in ice cubes moulds and then transfer it to an airtight container to add to drinks for extra flavour. I sometimes add a little blossom to each ice cube. whenever I make it this way I add a higher sugar concentration (approximately 3 times more so 300g sugar per 1 litre of water). It is nicer when added to drinks this way.
Freezing elderflower blossom heads
• Wash these thoroughly (see notes in the recipe card) and allow them to dry and freeze in sealed bags or containers. I recommend you freeze 3-4 blossomed heads in a bag to use the whole batch when needed.
For the best results, when you are using them from frozen as well as dried, add them to hot water and then allow them to cook. You will get a lot more flavour this way.
A few recipes where elderflower could be added :
- Ricotta Pancakes With Pineapple And Rum,
- No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe,
- Almond Flour Cake With Apricots,
- Coconut And Mint,
- Semolina, Ricotta Cheese And Coconut Cake,
- Pineapple And Mixed Berries Cake, or add to these Yogurt, Flaxseeds And Chocolate Ice Cream Bars. The list can go on and on.
Easy Elderflower Cordial
- jug or a drink dispenser
- wooden spoon
- kitchen scale
- 1 litre water spring bottled water still or sparkling
- 5-10 medium elderflower blossom heads freshly picked or dried *
- 2 large lemons one for the rind and juice and one to slice
- 100 g cane brown sugar or 2-3 tablespoons of honey
- 1 inch fresh ginger root sliced/ optional
- Wash thoroughly the elderflower heads - see notes on how to wash these thoroughly
- Pour the water into the drink dispenser or the large jug.
- Add the sugar or the honey. Mix well until dissolved.
- Add the thoroughly washed elderflower blossomed heads. Mix again.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and lemon slices. Stir again with a wooden or silicon spoon/ spatula.
- Allow it to start fermenting on a counter by placing it in the sun. It will be ready in one to three days, all depending on how warm and sunny your kitchen is.
- Once it's starting to get fizzy, strain it and store it in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.
- to make this cordial out of the blossoming season is also possible by drying the heads in a paper bag that is kept in a dark and cool room.
- place the heads into a large bowl filled with water that salt and soda bicarbonate was added to - submerge the heads and allow them to rest in that for at least 1/2 hour. Take out, discard the salty water and place the heads back into the bowl. Pour cold water on the heads and rinse again. Repeat until there is no more residue or tiny bugs come out. The trick here is to forage these as soon as they start blossoming so they are a lot cleaner.