It’s Elderflower Season – Here’s How To Forage For It

By Ellie Smith

1 year ago

Pick your own, and whizz up some a fresh drink or summer dessert

Nothing says summer like the taste of elderflower – whether that’s in a refreshing cordial, a fruity G&T or a light cake. Fragrant elderflowers begin to appear on trees across the UK around late May, and they tend to remain in season until mid-July. Keen to try your hand at some foraging? Here we share some tips from Pev Manners, MD at Belvoir Farm, a drinks company famed for its 40-year-old elderflower cordial, plus a handful of elderflower recipes.

Elderflower: Foraging Tips

From Pev Manners at Belvoir Farm

  • A gentle sunny day is best for foraging as you want the pollen on the flowers.
  • Find a spot away from a busy road – horse paddocks are great.
  • Key equipment you’ll need: a walking stick – one with a curved end so you can grab and pull down the top branches. And a basket if you have one, for collecting the flowers, or any bag or hessian sack suspended to your belt works just as well.
  • Pick from the taller branches, by drawing the boughs down with a walking stick. Always pull gently at the end where it is more pliable, to avoid snapping the branch.
  • Don’t use scissors, just bare hands, as it’s easier to just snap off the flower-heads.
  • Look for creamy white heads with a dusting of greeny-yellow pollen. That is where the flavour lies.
  • If you find one with a head the size of a tea plate, you know they’ll be good. However, if the pollen is brown, the flowers have gone too far. Anything that smells stale, like cat pee, is also beyond its best.
  • Cut just below the umbel – the common point at which all the short flower stalks extend.
  • Try not to shake the blooms too much, or wash them, as you’ll lose much of the valuable pollen and flavour.
  • Lay the blossom out in the shade for a couple of hours so that any insects can walk away.
  • Use your picked flowers as soon as possible – ideally within six to eight hours of picking – before the pollen falls off and the flowers go brown, which they will do after about eight hours off the bush.


Recipe: Elderflower Cordial

 From Belvoir Farm


  • 2.5kg white sugar, granulated or caster
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
  • 85g citric acid (buy online or from a chemist)


  1. Put the sugar and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Remove the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
  3. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

Elderflower Iced Tea

By Tommy Banks (The Black Swan at Oldstead)

Serves 2


  • 1 Earl Grey teabag
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 15 large ice cubes
  • 40ml elderflower cordial 
  • 10ml lemon juice


Place the teabag in a jug and pour over the boiling water. Leave to infused for 90 seconds. Meanwhile, in another jug combine the ice, cordial and lemon juice. Pour the hot tea over the other ingredients and stir until the tea is cold. Straight into glasses and enjoy. 

Elderflower and Rhubarb Kulfi with Sesame Brittle

By Will Bowlby (Kricket)

Kricket's kulfi ice cream

Hugh Johnson

‘Kulfi is a hard-set ice cream typically made from buffalo milk, which can be seen served roadside throughout India, in various flavours. The best one I’ve tried is towards the end of Marine Drive in Mumbai. It’s the perfect way to cool yourself down on a hot day. The sesame brittle adds a texture and crunch to this dessert – you can buy it ready-made.’

Serves 4


  • 200g rhubarb, chopped into 1 cm pieces 
  • 120ml elderflower cordial
  • 250ml evaporated milk
  • 250ml condensed milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 

For the sesame brittle:

  • 200g caster sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted


  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF/Gas 4). 
  2. Place the rhubarb in an earthenware dish, add 1 tablespoon of the elderflower cordial and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until soft. Mash the rhubarb and put to one side. 
  3. Pour the evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream into a pan and whisk together until well combined. Add the lemon zest. Bring to a bare simmer over a low heat and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining elderflower cordial, mix and leave to cool. 
  4. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the mashed rhubarb and whisk into the infused cream until very well combined and smooth in consistency. Spoon into 4 dariole moulds or ramekin dishes. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. 
  5. Meanwhile, to make the sesame brittle, line a baking tray with baking parchment. Heat the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan gently over a medium-low heat, without stirring, for about 5 minutes until bubbling and golden. Stir in the toasted sesame seeds, boil for a few seconds, then pour onto the prepared baking tray, spreading as thinly as possible. Leave to cool and harden completely. Bash the brittle into small shards. 
  6. To loosen the kulfi from the moulds, dip the bottoms of them briefly into hot water, run a knife carefully round the edge of the mould and turn out onto a plate. Top with the shards of sesame brittle and serve