Elderberry Cordial


Makes two 400ml jars of cordial.


500g of elderberries

500ml of water

350g of caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

6 cloves

1.  First, collect a bagful of elderberries, selecting only the ripest bunches with the darkest fruit. Then remove the berries from the stalks, using either a fork or your fingers.

When we travel, we love nothing more than eating local, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and so when we happen to park up by a bush or a tree brimming with ripe fruit we try to make the most of it.

When we parked up on the old abandoned Stelvio Pass road in Italy in early October we were not expecting to find a cluster of very old, gnarled elder trees and bushes brimming with fat, red rosehips ripe for the picking.

Not having the space or the stability required to make wine, we decided a nice elderberry cordial would be the perfect way to use them, and to save on gas we decided to prepare it outdoors on the fire.

This cordial is super simple to make, and with the addition of a few spices your kitchen will be smelling like Christmas. It’s sweet, warming and delicious, and can be enjoyed either hot, cold or with lemonade.


Removing the berries from the stems while the fire burns down.

2.  Next, stoke the fire if you’re cooking outdoors. This could be done while you separate the berries from the stalks. Flames will increase the intensity of your boil, whereas coals will allow you to simmer. See this recipe for a full guide to cooking on the fire.

Stoking the fire. We use a collapsible BBQ to avoid leaving fire pits behind.

3.  Place all of the ingredients in the pan and boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer you leave the cordial on the fire the more it will thicken up and concentrate.

related articles



Simmering the elderberries on the fire.

4.  Once you are satisfied that the berries have cooked out, strain the liquid through a colander or a muslin cloth, squeezing the mixture with a spoon to extract all of the juice from the berries.

The finished cordial, after straining.

5. Boil a kettle and pour the boiling water into your jars, then place these into a hot oven at around 160ºC or Gas Mark 3 for 5-10 minutes to sterilise. If you do not have an oven available then just ensure you have thoroughly swilled the jars with the hot water before filling.

6. Empty the jars then pour the cordial into them while still hot and seal. The cordial can be used immediately or stored for up to two years.

Decanting the cordial into jars ready to use.

So that’s all there is to it! We found making elderberry cordial on the fire to be a great way of spending more time outdoors getting to know the area you’re in, and as a bonus elderberries are packed with vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium and iron so they’re extremely good for you and great for fighting colds.