Elderflower Syrup

This Italian Family
by This Italian Family
2 litres
15 min

Elderflower syrup, called cordial in the Uk where it's super popular, is made largely from a refined sugar, honey, lemon and water solution and uses the flowers of the elder tree (Sambucus nigra L.)

It's extra sweet and to me tastes like summer, so I always make sure to prepare a big batch at the end of spring (usually in May), when the flowers are out in full bloom.

To drink this you can either dilute in water to your taste or freeze in ice cube trays to flavour water, soda or even in prosecco in the summer. Some people also use it to flavour other summer staples, such as ice cream, sorbet, ice lollies, etc.

Recipe details
  • 2  litres
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 5 Minutes Total time: 15 min
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  • 30 heads of elderflower
  • 8 1/2 cups of water
  • 7 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 8 tablespoons quality runny honey
  • 2 unwaxed lemons or limes

Pick off the bugs from the elderflower heads. Don't wash them as you will lose the pollen, but it's important to clean them manually really well and pick up the cleanest ones from the tree.
Boil the water, pour into a large pan or bowl and and dissolve the sugar and honey into it, making sure to mix really well until it's completely dissolved and there is no deposit at the bottom.
Finely grate in the lemon zest from all the lemons and add to the water together with the juice of one other lemon.
Add the elderflower upside down, making sure the flowers are completely submerged.
Slice the other lemon you grated and add the slices on top of the flowers. This will not only add extra flavour, but provide some weight to ensure they stay submerged.
Put a lid or cover on it, and leave to infuse in a dry and not too hot place for 24 hours.
After that time has passed, strain your syrup through a muslin or cheese cloth. Transfer to a jar or bottle and either use straight away or freeze.
The syrup will last 2 week in the fridge, or it can be frozen for many months.
  • Pick up the heads being careful not to tip them and lose the pollen. That's what gives the syrup its distinctive flavour.