Lemon Cordial

My dilemma – the lemon trees still have fruit on them and are starting to flower. Problem with more lemon fruit is that I am full up!  I have frozen lemon juice for lemon aid this summer, not to mention jars of lemon marmalade, jars of lemon curd, jars of herbal lemon salts, some lemon bath scrubs, plus ample dried lemon zest, so NOW WHAT can I do with still more lemons on the tree??!!

Bath scrub to help exfoliate that tough skin on elbows and heels.

Answer is – make some lemon cordial. Any cordial is basically three ingredients. Fruit, alcohol, some sweetening. The final “ingredient” is time. It takes some time for the flavor to develop.

Please read our note about using alcohol safely – here.

Lemons and Other Fruit for Cordial

If you do not have lemons, these recipes will work with other fruit or even edible flowers. I have successfully used currants, elderberry, orange, blackberry, red clover flowers, and dandelion flowers. Most cordials are half syrup (1 cup juice to 1 cup sugar) and half alcohol.

Alcohol for Cordial

I use the cheapest vodka there is because aging it with fruits and sugar smooths out the flavor and makes the vodka’s humble origins quite unnoticeable. You could also use the pure grain alcohol, sold as Everclear. Technically, you just need something that is at least 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). You want enough alcohol in the mix to kill any bacteria or fungi that might want to inhabit your beverages. Dilution can occur after decanting and before consumption.

savor-southwest-alcoholTime for Cordial

These drinks are best aged for a minimum of 6 months. The absolute tastiest I have made is some dandelion cordial that is going on 6 years old now, and every year it just gets smoother and mellower. I imagine that at some point this time advantage will be lost but I only made 8 jars so the experiment has 2 more years to run.


Always label what you have! Include the date! Sharpies write on glass and are easily erased with some rubbing alcohol. You can make fancier labels for gift giving when the time comes.

No – don’t drink the isopropyl! This is for cleaning the marker pen off the bottles before putting on a pretty label and gifting.

Lemon Cordial

Slice lemon finely.
Coat with sugar.
Layer into bottle.
Fill bottle with these sugared lemon slices.
Top with inexpensive vodka.

Sugar those slices of lemon. Helps open the juicy pores.

Invert a few times to eliminate air bubbles.
For the first 2 weeks invert every 2 or 3 days to eliminate air bubbles and dissolve sugar.
The sugar against the fruit helps draw out the juice.
Age for 6 months minimum.

Already juiced your lemons? You can still use the lemon juice.

Lemon Juice Cordial

Juice lemons.
For 1 cup lemon juice, add one cup sugar or honey and one cup inexpensive vodka.
Shake well.
For the first 2 weeks shake every 2 or 3 days to get everything mixed well and the sugar or honey blended into the alcohol.
Age for 6 months minimum.

Don’t toss those peels! They make a dandy floor cleaner as I demonstrate in this video.

Lemon Vodka

This is for folks that don’t like sweet drinks.

One lemon sliced finely and layered into bottle of choice.
Top with inexpensive vodka.
Invert a few times to eliminate air bubbles.
For the first 2 weeks invert every two or three days to eliminate air bubbles (so mold can’t grow).
Age for 6 months minimum.

I use lemon vodka to create margarita-like drinks. I can’t use tequila because I am allergic to agave. Sadly, tequila, mezcal, pulque and even agave nectar are on my “avoid” list.

Authors note.  I used to write for a different site, and some of this information is there.  More about what happened with that collaboration in this brief History of Savor the Southwest.

Father Kino’s Herbs – More Creative Cordials!

soule-kino-southwestThe last few copies of this out-of-print award winning Southwestern book are now for sale. Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today   The review says:

“Award-winning garden writer Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule has pulled together a fascinating book on the life of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and some of the plants that he brought to Southern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, and area called the Pimeria Alta.”

A steal at only $20!  This link is to our sales site. The profits from the sale go to the local Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.  We hope you will help support this great Southwest non-profit!

Legal Note

© Article copyright Savor the Southwest // Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.


The authors of this website have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.

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