Elderflower Syrup Recipe

I have been inundated with a request for instructions on how to make my elderflower syrup so I have finally decided to reveal my own elderflower syrup recipe. If people start drinking a refreshing drink made with elderflower syrup instead of coca cola or other over-priced fizzy water, then I’ll be a very happy man. If you choose to follow these instructions then you do entirely at your own risk so if you die while drinking your elderflower syrup, please don’t come running to me to complain.


First of all you’ll need some elderflowers. Depending on where you live, they could be in flower from late April until the end of July. If you’re lucky enough to live in a mountainous area then you could get a supply over a three month period as they flower later, the further up the mountain you go. Make sure you have the right flower.There are plants which look similar to elderflower but which will not make a refreshing drink.

elderflower bush

Here is an elderflower bush in the Spanish Pyrenees so that you have an idea of the size and shape of the bush. Try not to pick them after a rain shower as they lose some of their aroma. Best to pick them after about three days of dry weather.

elderflower heads

Collect them from an area which is well away from roads and any other forms of pollution. Don’t pick too many heads from one bush as birds feed on the berries in September. The quantity here is enough for about 5 litres of syrup.

untreated lemons

Get some real lemons rather than a plastic bottle of lemon juice. Try to get ones that are untreated – check out your local bio store – as the peel of regular lemons is covered in loads of chemicals. Rinse them to get rid of any dust.

bowl of sugar

You’ll need a lot of sugar. I use a five kilo bag of sugar with three litres of water. Yes, it is a lot but that preserves the drink, no bugs can live in it. Add the three litres of water and heat the mix – not because it needs cooking but simply to dissolve the sugar.

grated lemon

While you’re waiting for the sugar to dissolve, grate the lemons. Try not to get too much pith as this will affect the taste. Once grated, throw the lemon peel into the sugary solution.

cut lemons

Once the lemons are ready, as they are in the picture, squeeze them and add the juice and pulp to the mixture. Don’t add the pith. Take the pith (ha ha) and put it on your compost heap. It’ll take a long time to rot but it will make your compost smell nice.

elderflower syrup

It is a good idea to give the elderflower heads a shake before putting them into the elderflower syrup. Also remove any dead mice, bugs, leaves etc. Stir the mixture well. It doesn’t have to be heated but it will probably still be warm. Make sure there is no sugary sludge at the bottom of your pan.

elderflower syrup 2

Cover the pan for about 3-4 days. This will allow the flavour of the elderflower to diffuse into the syrup. Make sure the syrup is well covered so that animals and/or small children don’t upset it – it is quite sensitive.

bottling elderflower syrup

And finally, the bottling process. Sterilise your bottles by putting them in an oven on low heat for around ten minutes – if it is too hot, they’ll crack. Remove the elderflower heads from the syrup then decant the syrup into the bottles through a sieve. Store in a cool dark place.

And that’s it. The drink probably lasts for a couple of years though never does for me as I drink it or give it away to friends. To serve, add a small quantity to a jug with some fresh lemon juice. Serve chilled with ice cubes and slices of lemon. Very refreshing in summer and great if you need some energy when doing sports – and much cheaper than Lucozade.

12 thoughts on “Elderflower Syrup Recipe

  1. I’m definately going to try this one. I’ve get loads of flowers on my trees in spring so I’ll make good use of them. I’ve heard that the flowers must be picked at full moon! Have you heard of that? Take care, Patricia.

  2. Dear Jeremy, I’ve made some syrup mor/less like yours recipe (I had a recipe from my English mother, when I used to live in England, ages ago). the proportion water/sugar was 1:1. the first bottle was DELICIOUS, it was over all too soon. as I didn’t know how to keep the rest, after 1 day I put it in the fridge but 🙁 some fizzing had started and it was sort of bubbling/boiling in the bottles after 2/3 days. are you sure that it will keep? It must, I’m sure, but any idea of HOW? thanks for your help,

    • I always include citric acid which is a good preserver – I found a bottle of my 2010 elderflower cordial in the cellar recently (the one that got away!) and it is just as delicious.

  3. I’ve just tried your recipe and I love it! was a huge success, pity most of my wonderful syrup has now been swiped away by friends and family…..thank you so much for posting!!!

  4. Hi Jeremy,

    I’ve made elderflower syrup for 3 years now but each year some of the bottles explode. Quite a sugary diaster. What’s the solution? More citric acid or is it about the bottles? Would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!

    (teaching English in Italy)

  5. To avoid mold and exploding bottles (due to fermentation), simply add 10 g of citric acid per liter of sirup.

    I also add 1 g of ascorbic acid per liter to avoid browning of the syrup over time.

    For years I have made my elderflower syrup the way described above and always thought cleaning up the sticky mess in the kitchen was an unavoidable part of the precedure. However, one year I tried to simply infuse the elderflowers and lemon zest with water (at about 60°C) and adding the sugar after straining off the infusion. It tastes just as delicious while producting a lot less mess.

  6. The exploding bottles could also be due to not sterilising properly. Any bacteria left behind will create a very explosive situation given half a chance. I tend to take a belt and braces approach to sterilisation I start by sterilizing all equipment in sterilising solution (including bottles) then, while I’m making my syrup I pop the lids and bottles in the oven at about 80c to dry off (and sterilise a bit more) and keep them hot so that I can pour hot syrup into the bottles. That way, not only do you get super sterilised bottles, you also get a vacuum seal which helps everything last longer.

  7. Try a small amount of this cordial in a glass of German sekt, or French cremate or Italian prosecco. Magnificent!

    • For French “cremate” (how I dislike this automatic spelling corrector!!!!!!!) please read “cremant”

  8. I will make a cordial for sure, soon. I want to use the cordial to make a dry-ish spakling wine (works really well with shop-bough apple juice).

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