Magical Midsummer’s Eve: Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial/Syrup

Magical Midsummer's Eve: Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial/Syrup

Magical Midsummer’s Eve:

Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial/Syrup

Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

Tonight is the night for faeries, magic and mystical revelry, June the 23rd is Midsummer’s Eve, the day before Midsummer Day, also known as St John’s Day, it is the ancient middle of summer as well as the nativity of St John the Baptist. Midsummer, not to be confused with the Summer Solstice, is a potent and ancient celebration and until the 21st century, it was observed in Great Britain, with bonfires, the wearing and decorating of flowers, general feasting and merrymaking! It was also believed that it was the time of the year when witches were abroad, hence the lighting of fires to ward off evil spirits, and if you managed to stay up all night, and were sat in the middle of a stone circle, you might see the “Fae” as in faeries (fairies) and be blessed with good luck for the rest of the year. Sadly, the bonfires and making merry are not observed so much nowadays, if at all, but if you travel to Cornwall (or France) you may still see some Midsummer bonfires burning bright against the pale summer night sky; and in Scandinavia, they still celebrate this mystical time of year with flowers, berries and other special foods, as well as dancing.

"Midsummer Eve" (detail) ca. 1908 Edward Robert Hughes

“Midsummer Eve” (detail) ca. 1908 Edward Robert Hughes

We, as a family, celebrated Midsummer’s Eve many years ago; we went to Fountains Abbey  to see Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” being performed amongst the old ruins. We trekked across the grass armed with picnic baskets, cushions, a fold-up picnic table and waited with anticipation for the play to start…….sitting on the grassy bank with the stars and moon as our only light, although I do remember candles were scattered about the abbey too, we watched as the ancient play unfolded, it was a magical evening that I will never forget; even my daughter who was only five years old at the time still remembers this special evening.

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

I offered to make the picnic, and I remember that I made Coronation chicken, little pies and pasties filled with tender chicken and pink ham, sandwiches of all sorts along with fresh green salads and a large fruit cake. I know we took wine, as well as “squash” and juice, but had I made today’s recipe for Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial back then, I feel sure that would have been on the Midsummer Night picnic menu too.

Magical Midsummer's Eve: Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial/Syrup

Magical Midsummer’s Eve: Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial/Syrup

Although I don’t expect my readers, or myself for that matter, to bedeck themselves in flowers and prance around the woods, exciting and fun though it sounds, it would be nice to “restore” the observance of Midsummer by making something special to eat and drink tonight, as well as eating outdoors with candles and freshly picked flowers to dress the tables…….don’t you think?

Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial

Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial

And so my recipe for today is fruity and floral, to celebrate summer’s bounty, and as well as mixing this pretty pink cordial with water or lemonade, you can also create a fabulous cocktail but mixing it with sparkling wine or champagne. Have a wonderful Midsummer’s Eve and Day, and do let me know what customs and traditions you follow for this special night! Karen

Making Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial

Making Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial

Elderflower & Strawberry Cordial/Syrup

Serves Makes 2.5 litres
Prep time 72 hours
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Beverage
Misc Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Barbecue, Birthday Party, Casual Party, Christmas, Easter, Formal Party, Thanksgiving, Valentines day
Region British
By author Karen S Burns-Booth


The magical combination of fragrant elderflowers and fresh strawberries make this cordial/syrup extra special. Serve with sparkling water, soda water or lemonade, or for a very special occasion, serve with champagne for a champagne cocktail which is bound to wow any party or large gathering!


Step 1 Place 20 to 25 elderflower umbals (heads) shaken free of insects and 2 large lemons that have been sliced in to a large container, preferably one that has a lid.
Step 2 Add 1.5kg of caster sugar and 50g of tartaric or citric acid, then pour 2 litres of boiling water over the elderflower and sugar mixture and stir.
Step 3 Allow to cool slightly before adding 450g of hulled and halved strawberries and give it all a good mix. Press the strawberries against the sides of the container to squash them slightly, then cover and place in a cool, dark place for 3 days, (72 hours) stirring at least twice a day.
Step 4 When you are ready to bottle the cordial/syrup, strain the mixture in batches through muslin and a sieve and then pour into clean (sterilised) bottles. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Making Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial

Making Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial

As there are flowers in this recipe, I am adding it to Tea Time Treats this month, as the theme that my co-host Jane from the Hedgcombers and I picked, is Flowers, Edible Plants and Sugar Craft Flowers!

Tea Time Treats

Link to my Elderflower Cordial:

May Day, Foraging and a Prelude to Summer – Old Fashioned English Elderflower Cordial

Old Fashioned Elderflower Cordial

Old Fashioned Elderflower Cordial



  1. says

    I love the idea of celebrating the bounty of summer tonight; it’s not something that I’ve ever really celebrated but it sounds like such a treat!

  2. says

    I love the Pre Raphaelites with their mystical fairy paintings and atmosphere from another time. A perfect link for your Fountain Abbey Foray. Great recipe, I bet this is delicious with strawberries. I thought if you didn’t heat the cordial in the bottles it wouldn’t keep except in the fridge? There’s still a few elderflowers left, I’m off to pick and bottle. GG

  3. says

    Thanks GG! I have always made it this way and it is the citric or tartaric acid that keeps it okay, although it has to be stored in a cool place, so a fridge could be used! Karen

  4. says

    I may be from Cornwall, but I had no idea Midsummer was on a different day to the Solstice – where have I been not to have seen those bonfires? Tucked up in bed like a good girl most probably 😉 Love the colour of your cordial and I bet it would taste divine in a glass of champers.

    • says

      The solstice is when the day and night are of equal length, and midsummer is the middle date of the summer season, but they often get pushed together and so the summer solstice is called midsummer! You need to keep your eyes peeled for those fires next year Choclette! Karen

  5. says

    you are a poet with both your words and your cooking… this is beautiful. In so many way. I need a glorious long tall glass of this stunning liquid. xx

  6. Heidi Roberts says

    I love the heady fragrance of the elderflowers growing this time of the year. The syrup is my absolute favourite drink but the addition of strawberries is genius!

  7. says

    Beautiful pictures – I love the idea of adding strawberries to the syrup and will definitely give that a try next year.
    We used to have bonfires for St John’s when I grew up in southern Germany – you could see them burning all across the valley. Thanks for the lovely post!

    • says

      Thanks so much Ginger! I feel sure that when I lived in Germany, that I remember seeing bonfires on St John’s night/eve too. The strawberries really add to the elderflower cordial, rather than taking anything away.

  8. says

    I did manage to do a bit of Midsummer celebrating but I left planning too late to do a proper flower crown for a romp in the woods. Not that we have a woods, because it’s pretty much just grassland! Next year, though…

    I am so JEALOUS of everyone who just has elderflowers growing around them. The closest I can get are those bottled elderflower cordials. Not so bad, really, if gin is involved.

  9. says

    I love strawberry and elderflower flavours together. I’ve made a cheesecake using the flavours but I love the idea of it in cordial. I really want to try this :)


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