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Keto Elderflower Cordial: A step by step guide

Updated: 2 days ago

Whip up this easy keto Elderflower cordial recipe and capture the flavour of summer for your drinks and desserts!

The Enchantment of Elderflowers

As the warmth of spring transitions into summer, nature unfurls its vibrant tapestry, showcasing the delicate elderflower. These clusters of tiny, white blooms from the elder tree (Sambucus nigra) are more than just pretty faces in the wild—they hold a treasure trove of culinary and cultural significance. Today, let's explore the allure of elderflowers, the joys of foraging, and the magic of elderflower cordial.

The Magic of Elderflowers

Elderflowers are the quintessential symbol of early summer, appearing from late May to early July. Their distinctive, sweet fragrance evokes a blend of muscat grapes and honey, instantly recognizable to seasoned foragers. Historically, elderflowers have been cherished in folk medicine for their purported anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, as well as their role in beauty rituals. Their subtle, sweet flavour has also made them a favourite in various culinary applications, from desserts to beverages.

Foraging for Elderflowers

Foraging for elderflowers is a delightful way to immerse yourself in nature's seasonal bounty. Here are some essential tips for a successful and sustainable harvest:

  • Identification: Accurately identifying elderflowers is crucial. Look for large, compound leaves with 5-7 leaflets and the iconic clusters of creamy-white flowers. Be cautious of toxic look-alikes, such as hemlock.

  • Prime Locations: Elder trees are versatile and can be found in woodlands, hedgerows, and along riverbanks. Choose foraging spots away from pollution and pesticides to ensure the purity of your harvest.

  • Harvesting Technique: Use scissors or pruning shears to snip the flower heads, leaving some blooms behind for wildlife and the plant’s health. The best time to harvest is on a dry day, preferably in the morning when the flowers are most fragrant.

  • Sustainable Practices: Practice mindful foraging by taking only what you need. Avoid stripping a single tree of all its flowers to allow for berry development later in the season, which provides food for birds and other wildlife.

  • Permission: Always make sure you're allowed to forage wherever you are. Either make sure you have land owners permission or only go picking on public rights of way like footpaths and bridleways.

The Allure of Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower cordial is a delightful way to capture the essence of these blossoms. This sweet, aromatic syrup can transform simple water into a refreshing drink, elevate sparkling wines, and enhance a variety of culinary creations. The process of making elderflower cordial is a labor of love, infusing the floral notes into a sweet concoction that embodies the spirit of summer.

The tradition of making elderflower cordial dates back centuries and remains a beloved practice. This versatile syrup offers a taste of nostalgia, evoking memories of sunny days and the gentle hum of bees around the blossoms. While the preparation may vary, the heart of the recipe is the infusion of elderflowers with sugar, water, and citrus, creating a golden-hued nectar.

Savouring the Experience

Whether you enjoy elderflower cordial as a chilled drink on a hot afternoon or use it to add a floral twist to cocktails and desserts, its delicate flavour is a celebration of nature’s bounty. Sharing a bottle of homemade elderflower cordial is also a thoughtful gesture, perfect for gifts that carry the essence of summer.

Foraging for elderflowers and crafting cordial from these blossoms is more than a culinary endeavour—it’s a way to connect with the rhythms of the natural world. It offers a moment of tranquility, a break from the hustle of daily life, and a reminder of the simple pleasures that nature provides.

So, as you wander through meadows or along woodland paths, keep an eye out for the frothy white blooms of the elder tree. Embrace the opportunity to forage responsibly, savour the delicate fragrance, and enjoy the timeless tradition of elderflower cordial.

That's enough waffle

Let's make some elderflower cordial

First you'll need....

40 Elderflower heads

1 Lemon

2000g Water

Make your infusion 

Gather your Elderflower

Pick elderflower heads on a dry, sunny day when they are in full bloom.

Gently shake the flower heads to remove any insects and debris.

Cut the blossoms away from their stalks or remove the flowers with a fork.

Discard the stalks.

Give the flowers a soak

Transfer the elderflowers into a bowl or tub, squeeze the juice of the lemon over the flowers and cover with the 2 litres of water. Cover the bowl/tub with clingfilm or a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate for 48 hours.

You can weigh the flowers down with a small plate to keep them submerged.


Finish the cordial

Strain the infusion

Pass the liquid through a cheesecloth/muslin, a jelly bag or if necessary you can even use a clean tea towel or J-cloth.

Squeeze all the liquid out of the flowers and discard them.

Sweeten (and thicken) the infusion

Weigh the liquid and reserve.

In a clean stainless saucepan add the remaining ingredients according to the reserved liquid.

For each 1000g of infusion you will need....

100g Truvia Sweetener

2.5g Sodium alginate/Agar agar (½tsp)

*The Sodium alginate or Agar agar aren't necessary, they just add the syrupy body that the full sugar version has*

Whisk a little of the infusion into the dry ingredients to form a paste and then add the rest and whisk again.

Bring the mixture up to a brief simmer, whisking occasionally, and remove from the heat.

Leave to cool to room temperate, pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate.

You've made Keto Elderflower cordial!

It will keep for a month in a sealed bottle in the fridge.

Dilute it with equal parts (or more) of water.

It makes a great mixer for gin when mixed with equal amounts of tonic or soda water.



While elderflowers are generally safe for consumption, other parts of the elder tree (such as the leaves, stems, and unripe berries) contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can be toxic. Remove as much stalk as possible and only use the cold infusion technique detailed above.

Proper identification and preparation are crucial.


Elder Folklore

Elder trees have long been surrounded by a rich tapestry of folklore, intertwining their blossoms and berries with legends of magic, medicine, and mystery. These ubiquitous trees have been revered across cultures for centuries.

The Sacred Elder Tree

In European folklore, the elder tree was often considered sacred and imbued with protective powers. It was believed that the Elder Mother, a guardian spirit, resided within the tree. Cutting down an elder without asking her permission could bring bad luck or even summon her wrath. To avoid this, people would traditionally say a prayer or offer a small offering (usually a silver coin) to appease the spirit before taking any part of the tree.

I wonder how many coins can still be found buried on the site of long forgotten Elder trees!

Elderberries: Nature’s Healers

Elderberries have a long history as both food and medicine. In medieval times, they were known as a “poor man’s medicine chest” due to their wide range of uses. Elderberries were commonly used to make syrups, wines, and remedies believed to ward off colds, flu, and other ailments. Some folklore even suggested that elderberries could protect against witches and evil spirits. This reputation for protection and healing has kept elderberries in high esteem in herbal medicine practices.

The Enchanting Elderflower

Elderflowers, with their delicate, sweet fragrance, have also inspired numerous legends. In Scandinavian folklore, elderflowers were thought to have the power to grant visions of the fairy realm if one slept beneath an elder tree on Midsummer’s Eve. The blossoms were used in various charms and potions, believed to bring luck and protection.

Additionally, elderflowers were a staple in traditional folk remedies. They were often brewed into teas to alleviate colds, fevers, and allergies. The flowers were also used in beauty treatments, as their gentle properties were thought to improve skin health.

Modern Echoes of Ancient Beliefs

Today, while the mystical aspects of elder folklore have faded, the tree's reputation in herbal medicine endures. Elderflower cordial and elderberry syrup remain popular, not just for their delightful taste, but also for their reputed health benefits due to high vitamin content, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, along with the power to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

As you enjoy elderflower drinks or elderberry preserves, you’re partaking in a tradition steeped in centuries of legend and lore. The elder tree continues to be a symbol of nature’s magic and the enduring connection between humanity and the natural world. Whether you believe in the old tales or simply appreciate the elder tree for its practical uses, its folklore adds a touch of enchantment to every bloom and berry.

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