How to make refreshing Swedish elderflower cordial

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How to make refreshing Swedish elderflower cordial
This syrup tastes great with some bubbles. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Prepare for the sunny weather with food writer John Duxbury's recipe for deliciously cooling cordial.


In Sweden fläderblomssaft (elderflower syrup), is well-loved and easy to obtain in any grocery store. Saft is a very sweet concentrate, typically made from berries, elderflowers, and/or sometimes citrus and diluted with water for drinking. Brits refer to it as cordial rather than syrup.

Elderflowers are typically in season during late May until the end of June. It’s best to harvest them when they are a rich, creamy colour before they turn white. Ideally, pick the flowers early on a dry day before the sun hits them and their aroma starts to fade.


Look for flower heads with buds that are fully open, but not turning brown. Snip off the whole umbrellas and place them gently in a bag. The pollen contributes to the taste so transport them carefully. For maximum effect they should be used within a couple hours of picking. They don’t need to be washed but do inspect them closely and remove anything crawling or undesirable before use.

Elderflower cordial (syrup) is rich in vitamin C from the elderflowers as well as the lemons so it is really healthy, unless you add a lot of alcohol!


Makes about three litres 

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 10 minutes

Plus 3-5 days standing to absorb the flavour of the elderflowers.


I prefer to place the elderflowers in the bottom of the jar and put the lemons on top of the flowers, then quickly pour in the hot liquid to minimise the browning of the flowers.

Citric acid crystals are readily available in any supermarket in Sweden. Outside of Sweden you can normally buy citric acid in health food stores or online. If you can't find any, you can add 120 ml (½ cup) of lemon juice instead, but the resulting cordial may taste too lemony.

Flädersaft can be kept in the freezer and is easily scooped out of a container as needed since the high sugar content keeps it from freezing solid.

You can also use this recipe with lilacs.



30-40 elderflower heads

3 lemons (preferably unwaxed), sliced

2 litres (8 cus) of water

2 kg (8.5 cups) of granulated sugar

60 g (4 tbsp) citric acid


1. Place the lemon slices and elderflower heads into a non-reactive container(s) that is large enough to accommodate 4 litres (8 pints).

2. Bring 2 litres (4 pints) of water and 2 kg of sugar to a boil in a large pot, stirring periodically to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the citric acid until it dissolves. Carefully pour the hot liquid over the lemon slices and elderflowers. Stir everything well and cover the container with a lid or a towel and let it sit in a cool, dark place for 3-5 days. Stir daily, more often if you can.

3. After 3-5 days put a piece of muslin (cheese cloth) in a fine mesh strainer and strain the syrup into clean containers. Discard the flowers, lemons, and debris. Store the syrup in the refrigerator or freezer.

Serving suggestions

1. Serve it diluted to taste with iced water, sparkling water or soda water. (3 or 4 parts water to 1 part elderflower cordial.)

2. Add some ice, mint and berries to a glass. Pour 2-3 tablespoons or so of elderflower cordial over and then top-up with sparkling wine. Stir and enjoy.

3. Add thinly sliced cucumber, mint, ice and a tablespoon or so of elderflower cordial to a glass and then top-up with sparkling wine. Stir and enjoy.

4. Add some ice, a slice of lemon or a wedge of lime (I prefer lime) and a small sprig of mint to a large wine glass. Pour in some elderflower cordial (about 2 tablespoons), top up with prosecco and stir. Gorgeous.

5. Pour some elderflower cordial over some vanilla ice cream.

6. Use some elderflower cordial to make a lovely floral-scented sorbet. Garnish with a few elderflowers and a little sparkling wine.

This recipe was originally published on food writer John Duxbury’s Swedish Food website. 



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