National Picnic Month: Stash a Bottle of Elderflower Cordial in your Hamper

  20 Jul '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn
Photo by Hanne Hoogendam on Unsplash

The Scottish Wild Food Bible by Claire Macdonald is a pocket-sized book containing a mighty selection of recipes that use the huge variety of produce that can be found growing wild in fields, forests, hedgerows and along the seashore. Our recipe of the week, chosen in celebration of National Picnic Month, is her recipe for Elderflower Cordial – mix up a chilled bottle and get out there!

With 2021’s cold, late spring we are now in the midst of Elderflower season. Claire writes –

From mid-June, depending on the weather and how cold or warm spring has been, our hedgerows and woods are filled with lace-like clusters of tiny white flowers at the end of vivid green-leaved branches of the elder tree. These are elderflowers, and they taste exquisite. I’ve experimented with freezing the heads to preserve their flavour for use in later months – don’t bother! They lose all taste. But they can be wonderfully preserved in a cordial, where the flavour is every bit as delicious several months after being made. The elderflower season can end suddenly if we are cursed with high winds and rain, but all being well on the weather front, elderflowers should be available for 4-6 weeks.

Elderflower Cordial, from The Scottish Wild Food Bible by Claire Macdonald

Makes one bottle.


  • About 12 heads of elderflower
  • 600ml (1 pint) cold water
  • Pared rind of 1 lemon – use a potato peeler to do this, to avoid any bitter white pith
  • 175g (6oz) granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon


Put the water, pared lemon rind and granulated sugar into a saucepan over moderate heat and stir until the

sugar dissolves completely. Then add the elderflower heads, pushing them down into the liquid. Boil the

contents of the pan for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the lemon juice, and cool. Strain into a jug and

then store in a bottle until required. Store in a cool place, ideally a larder. To drink, dilute with still or sparkling


Further delicious elderflower recipes in the Scottish Wild Food Bible include Elderflower and Gooseberry Jelly and light-as-air Elderflower Fritters.

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