Simple Lemon Cordial Recipe

I started the batch of homemade limoncello yesterday.  It left me with 17 de-zested lemons and 20 de-zested oranges to use quickly.  They won’t store very well without their tough zest to protect them and as you may know I’m not a fan of food-waste.  Any move towards a self sufficient life means using every part of everything you can.  There should really be no waste in a self sufficient household.  So what do you do with 17 lemons?

The oranges were easy – I juiced and refrigerated them for this week’s breakfast orange juice.

The lemons caused more thought but eventually I made a batch of homemade lemon cordial.  Most cordial recipes call for powdered citric or tartaric acid.  I’m not a fan of buying in more ingredients and as citric acid is just a preservative used in place of lemon juice in many recipes I couldn’t really see the point.  The lemon cordial is simple, natural and preserved traditionally so should keep all year.

How To Make Lemon Cordial

Homemade Lemon Cordial Recipe (Lemon Squash Recipe for the Brits)

Ingredients: Lemons and white sugar.  The amount of sugar depends on the volume of juice you are able to squeeze from the lemons.  Use as many lemons as you like.  We used 17 lemons and ended up with a litre of juice and about 1.5 litres of finished cordial.


  1. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and pour into a measuring jug.
  2. For every litre of juice add 1.2 kilos of sugar.
  3. Heat the juice and sugar slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Once the sugar is completely dissolved (test by dipping a wooden spoon in the pan in various places – no sugar crystals should be found on it).
  5. The cordial is ready for immediate use or sterilising and bottling for storage.

lemon syrup cooling

Bottling & Sterilising

This is not as scary as it sounds!  You’ll need bottles (or jars) with screw top lids and a large saucepan lined with a small towel.

  1. Wash the bottles/jars thoroughly and dry in the oven for 15 minutes on very low.
  2. Now fill the bottles with warm cordial.  Tighten all the screw caps then undo 1/2 a turn to allow for expansion of the cordial.
  3. Put the bottles of cordial in the large pan and fill the pan with warm (not hot) water to come at least 2/3 way up the bottles.  You may wish to use cloth or more towels to prevent the bottles knocking each other.
  4. Very slowly bring the water up to the boil.  Boil for 30 minutes.
  5. Once cool enough to handle tighten all the lids fully.

The process is very straightforward and important to preserve items while preserving their delicate taste.  Any fruit in a weak sugar syrup can be preserved in this ‘hot water bath’ method.  The fruit or cordial actually cook inside the jar or bottle.

While I’m feeling suitably virtuous about the lack of wasted lemons we still have a few baskets of oranges to consume.  We definitely don’t need any more marmalade so I shall be looking out for something else to do with them.

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12 Responses to “Simple Lemon Cordial Recipe”

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  1. Chris Clark says:

    I wonder if you could make an orange syrup or concentrate to freeze and mix with water for making orange juice later… like this
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup boiling water
    1 tbs lemon juice
    ¼ cup orange juice
    grated rind of 1 orange

    Boil sugar and water 5 minutes. Add the fruit juice and grated rind and continue boiling until the right consistency to pour.
    (I found it here

    I know here we buy cardboard cans of orange juice concentrate in the freezer section. When we want orange juice, we thaw a tube of it, put it into a pitcher (it’s really thick) and mix with water to have orange juice.

    Other ideas might be candied orange peel, preserved oranges – which are done in slices and used in some recipes – or look up orange bread, orange cookies, make orange shortbread…. I just wish I had baskets and baskets of oranges and lemons! I got several boxes of pears last year and was in the same situation. We made preserves, we boiled them down to an applesauce consistancy, made pear bread, etc. etc. 🙂

    Chris Clark’s last blog post..My favorites

    • Wow thanks very much Chris! Lots of things for me to look at doing. I think we’ve got years until we have too many pears – our trees are only babes at the mo, but when we do I’ll be after more ideas from you!
      I’ve done preserved oranges but alas they weren’t very nice – I burnt the sugar I think. We have been enjoying orange drizzle cake on a much too regular basis too!

  2. JoHart says:

    Planning on trying the cordial – we have own lemons but skins have blemishes – we usually just do citron presse (juice, sugar and water). I might end up just making the syrup and freezing in ice cube trays (as far as it will with the high sugar content). Then we can put iced cordial lumps in wate

    For using oranges when you already have a marmalade mountain I have done spiced orange slices in the past – good with cold meats. I will try and find recipe and put it in a comment for you

    JoHart’s last blog post..Stats!!!

    • Hi Jo,

      I’ve done one batch of pickled sliced oranges but haven’t really enjoyed them! Freezing the syrup is definitely a good idea. Wish we could do that but our gas powered fridge only has a small freezer compartment so I have to be quite picky about only freezing high value items. Shame.

      Maybe I should just juice more of the oranges and try and ‘borrow’ some freezer room with friends!

  3. JoHart says:

    You could try orange curd – that is one I do quite often as it is a variation on my lemon curd recipe. Helps to use up egg gluts. Also have recipe for orange chutney but don’t remember ever making it so couldn’t vouch for flavour. I have been excercising ingenuity with plums and peaches this year – 2 small plum trees = 30-40 kg fruit and one small peach tree arounbd 20 kg plus about 20 kg of figs from neighbour – we have jams, sauces, pickled, frozen (cooked and raw), granita, sauces and wine (still fermenting). We do have a coolroom and 2 big freezers – are 50km from nearest weekly farmers market and anything other than very small shops (nearest of any sort is 20 km) and reckon fuel saving on travel to buy frexh + being able to keep and use own produce compensates for electricity used. We r just about to get solar panels to reduce our elec costs.

    Sorry this has ended up not a comment but a chat – apologies!

    JoHart’s last blog post..Stats!!!

    • Hi Jo,

      Sounds like you’ve got lots of produce! We’re awaiting gluts of plums and peaches – but it will be a while yet. Wine sounds a good idea – I’ve not made it before but think it could definitely be the future for us! I do make orange curd – its soooo tasty.

      Good you’re getting solar panels – I don’t understand them but they’re marvelous! Though it does make for being extra grumpy on cloudy days as no free leccy!

  4. Ian Johnson says:

    Thanks what a terrific recipe! I was looking for one without acid and Epsom
    salts. Just made about 750ml today with 9 lemons and 2 grapefruit from our trees (I’m in NZ so it’s summer now). I also used the zest which gave it a lovely rich yellow colour.

    I’ll get busy making more now, we have lots of both so it’s good to have another use.

    Cheers Ian

  5. wendywu says:

    Just found your recipe after making up a lemon cordial yesterday with 6 lovely lemons I bought at the farmers market. All the recopies I found yesterday (except the one I used) said Citric Acid and Tartaric Acid, neither which I had; knew what they were; or wanted to use as they didn’t sound natural. Goggled today recipes without Acid and yours came up, so will try next time (love fresh lemon juice, but it gets drunk too quickly in our house, so cordials the way to go). Had my girls cousins over, and they liked it so gave them some too. Just one question, which was sort of mentioned above – I had grated lemon in my recipe, which I ended up peeling as they were so hard and took so long to grate. It had a taste in it, which could have been bitter from the pith. Would adding peel/grated lemon make it taste more of the lemon, or do you think it’s not needed?

  6. Vik Olliver says:

    Use a surform tool from Bunnings to shave off the zest. Works awesome. Blade removes for cleaning and they have replacement for when it goes rusty.

  7. Marguerite says:

    Something simple we do with leftover juice is freeze it in icecube trays. You can then pop them into a freezer container. Then you have juice out of season iwhen you want it for cooking fish or whatever, in easy to use quantities 🌞

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