Simple Homemade Elderflower Syrup Recipe

Homemade elderflower syrup is really easy to make and captures the floral essence of this delicious drink.

Every spring, I can’t wait to make a new batch of elderflower syrup! 

If you are like me and looking for elderberry bushes every spring, you’ve likely encountered the delicate and aromatic, edible flowers. 

In this blog post, I am showing you the simple process of transforming these beautiful blooms into a rich simple syrup. 

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A note about elderflowers and elderberries

Elder trees belong to the Sambucus family. Flowering in the late spring/early summer and having small black berries, Sambucus nigra grows easily in the wild in North America (read more about elderberries here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus).  The berries are mildly toxic raw but make a delicious juice or jam when cooked. 

People have been valuing elder trees for their health benefits for centuries. So much so that they will keep the location of them a secret.

Some years ago, I simply put a piece of the stem of an elder tree into the ground in the fall, kept it moist, and it has grown into quite a big tree now. While I still like to forage, I can now harvest the flowers and berries straight from my own garden.

elderflowers on elderberry bush
cluster of elderflowers on wooden cutting board

What are the ingredients

You only need 4 basic ingredients for this elderflower syrup recipe or sometimes also called elderflower cordial:

  • Fresh elderflower blossoms: I like to use 10-20 elderflower heads depending on their size
  • Lemons: 2-3 whole lemons, ideally organic since you will use them with their peel
  • Citric acid: If you have been canning at home, you might already have citric acid in your pantry
  • Sugar: I just organic cane sugar but any white sugar will work
jar of sugar, bottle of citric acid, elderflowers, and 3 lemons on kitchen counter

Useful tools and equipment

I find these tools helpful:

  • Large pot: any large pot is fine
  • ½ gallon size mason jar: this is my preferred size but you could also divvy it up between smaller wide-mouth jars
  • Strainer: once steeped, you will need to strain the elderflower syrup
  • Pretty glass bottles: while you can keep your syrup in any bottle, putting it in a pretty bottle will be so nice, especially if you’d like to gift it

Substitutions and variations

As with many recipes, you can vary the ingredients a bit:

  • Amounts and ratios: I feel that this recipe gives you a good balance between a fragrant syrup that will also keep. However, you could always add more lemon juice or elderflowers.
  • Lemons: I like to add lemon slices but you can simply add straight lemon juice and add some lemon zest. You can also use meyer lemons for this recipe.
large mason jar with elderflower and lemon syrup on kitchen counter

How to serve

There are many ways you can enjoy your homemade elderflower syrup but here are my favorite ones:

  • Gift: A bottle of elderflower syrup makes the perfect homemade gift for anyone
  • Elderflower lemonade: mix a bit of your elderflower syrup with lemonade or simply use soda water and some lemon juice for a non-alcoholic beverage
  • Over Ice Cream: Drizzling vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet with this homemade elderflower cordial makes for a fresh, delicate dessert
  • Tea: you can make a delicious tea by steeping fresh elderflowers in hot water and then adding a small amount of the elderflower syrup to your tea
  • Hugo: this adult drink is very popular in Germany on hot summer days: mix a bit of elderflower syrup with some white wine or sparkling wine, a bit of soda water and a spritz of lemon, and garnish with some mint leaves
  • Elderflower cocktails: you can get very creative in adding this floral syrup to your drinks (BBC’s Good Food has a lot more elderflower recipes: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/elderflower-drinks-recipes)
  • Other drinks: experiment with adding some of this elderflower syrup to soft drinks or fizzy water
jar of elderflower cordial, glass with elderflower drink, and elderflowers on kitchen counter

How long will it last?

This elderflower cordial has quite a bit of sugar and citric acid to keep it from spoiling. Once you open the bottle, keep it in the refrigerator where it should easily last 4 weeks (mine tends to last longer if I haven’t already finished it by then). 

You can store unopened bottles at room temperature for about one year. For best results, I recommend keeping it in a cool dark place, though. 

Other elderflower and elderberry recipes you might like

How to Use Elderflowers

Homemade Elderberry Juice

How to Make Elderberry Jam

Frequently asked questions:

Where can I find elderflowers or elder trees?

Elder trees grow in the wild near water sources or creeks. You can often find them around farms or homesteads since they love nitrogen. 

When is the best time to harvest elderflowers?

If you live in warmer regions in the US, you might find elderflower bushes blooming from late May or not until early July in cooler places. The best time for harvesting the fresh elderflowers is a dry morning of a sunny day.

Can you make this with dried flowers?

Yes, you can make this elderflower cordial recipe with dried flowers. It will have a more concentrated taste and you can use less of these creamy white florets.

Can I use other flowers?

Yes, you can make tasty flower syrups with lilacs, rose petals, violets, or lavender. 

How to make this traditional elderflower cordial

Here are the step-by-step instructions to make your own elderflower syrup:

  1. Make the sugar water: To a medium or large pot, add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the citric acid.
  2. Prepare the citrus fruit: For best results, use organic, unwaxed lemons. Wash the rind under hot water with a little bit of soap. Cut them into thin slices.
  3. Prepare the elderflowers: Cut the fresh flowers from thick stems (small stems are ok) and keep them in a bowl.
  4. Prepare the jars: Alternate adding citrus slices and elderflowers to a half-gallon mason jar.  
  5. Make the syrup: Pour the hot sugar water over the elderflowers and lemons. Stir well and put the lid on. Keep the jar in a cool place for three days. Once or twice every day, either stir the mixture or shake the jar.
  6. Strain the elderflower syrup: After three days, using a fine mesh strainer, strain the syrup. I love having some of the residues in my jar. Alternatively, you can line your strainer with paper towels or a clean tea towel before straining the syrup into a large bowl. You can now fill it into clean jars or bottles for quick consumption. Otherwise:
  7. Boil the syrup: To make this homemade elderflower syrup last longer, in a pot over medium heat bring it back to a boil. Immediately fill the hot syrup into clean jars or bottles. Even though I have never used a water bath canner, you might like to choose to do so. 

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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How to Make A Simple Elderflower Syrup
large jar of elderflower syrup with lemon slices in it
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Elderflower Syrup

Homemade elderflower syrup is so easy to make and captures the floral essence of this delicious drink.
Prep Time7 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
steeping time3 days
Total Time3 days 22 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: German
Servings: 124 servings
Calories: 142kcal
Cost: $3

Ingredients

  • 10-20 whole elderflower heads (depending on size)
  • 3 whole lemons, ideally organic
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 25 g citric acid
  • 1.5 litres water (about 1.5 quarts)

Instructions

  • To a pot, add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the citric acid.
  • Cut the fresh flowers from thick stems (small stems are ok) and keep them in a bowl.
  • For best results, use organic, unwaxed lemons. Wash the rind under hot water with a little bit of soap. Cut them into thin slices.
  • Alternate adding citrus slices and elderflowers to a half-gallon mason jar.  
  • Pour the hot sugar water over the elderflowers and lemons. Stir well and put the lid on. Keep the jar in a cool place for three days. Once or twice every day, either stir the mixture or shake the jar.
  • After three days, using a fine mesh strainer, strain the syrup.
  • To make this homemade elderflower syrup last longer, in a pot over medium heat bring it back to a boil. Immediately fill the hot syrup into clean jars or bottles.

Notes

  • Depending on where you live, you can find elderflowers from May to July in the US.
  • If you can’t find fresh elderflowers, you can make this syrup with dried elderflowers.

Nutrition

Calories: 142kcal
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