Fruit cordial recipes - UPDATED

5 September 2007
In the old days, before Coco-Cola and Pepsi appeared, you would usually be served fruit cordial or ginger beer on a hot day in Australia. Most homemakers had a favourite fruit cordial recipe that she'd make up at the beginning of summer and she would replenish her supplies as the hot weather progressed. Cordials are still popular here but they've become a bit of a nightmare with preservatives, colourings and lots of sugar.

Making your own will give you a much better result. You can modify the amount of sugar you add, and apart from that, the only ingredients are fruit, water, and sometimes citric or tartaric acids. These are natural fruit acids extracted from fruit which intensify flavour and help a little with the storage life of the cordial. You can usually buy citric acid or tartaric acid from any supermarket.  If you can't find them, leave them out.  The cordial will be just as good without them.

Sugar is added to cordial in the form of sugar syrup, which is traditionally equal parts sugar and water. For instance, if you use 1 litre of water, add one litre of sugar, or for one cup of water, add one cup of sugar. This is boiled gently until the sugar dissolves completely.

You could make just about any cordial with sugar syrup and fruit - either juiced or chopped up. You can experiment with your recipes, and the amounts of fruit and sugar you use. Once you have your fruit syrup made, you then serve it icy cold diluted with water, soda water or mineral water. Add some ice, a slice of fruit and a sprig of mint and bob's your uncle. ; )

Here are some of my cordial recipes to start you off, but please use these as guide and experiment with what you have on hand and what your family likes.

8 lemons
Sugar syrup - 1.5 litres water + 1.5 kilos sugar, boiled together until the sugar has dissolved.

Grate about 2 tablespoons of rind from the lemons before you cut them. Juice the lemons - if you put them in the microwave for a minute before cutting them, you'll get more juice. Add the grated rind and the juice in a large bowl. Pour the sugar syrup over the juice and mix well.

Allow to cool and pour into bottles. Stores well in the fridge for a month. Dilute with cold water to taste and serve with lots of ice.

ORANGE CORDIAL - you can use this recipes for many types of fruit
8 oranges or about 1 litre of any other fruit juice - either juiced or squashed.
Finely grated zest of two oranges.
Sugar syrup, 1 litre water to 1 kilo sugar - sugar syrup is always equal quantities of sugar to water - boiled until the sugar has dissolved.

Mix juice and zest with the sugar syrup and allow to cool completely. Will store for a month in the fridge. Serve diluted with water and a lot of ice.

Sugar syrup - 2 cups water+2 cups sugar
300g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
juice of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons tartaric acid

Make the sugar syrup. Add the raspberries and lemon juice then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir well, and mash the raspberries up a little. Add the tartaric acid, then put the mixture through a strainer and allow to cool. Pour into a bottle and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

ORANGEADE - this is a really old Australian recipe given to me by my mum

Cut 4 oranges into thin rounds, remove the pips and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with ½ cup sugar and 1 litre of cold water. Mix. Put into the fridge for 2 hours and serve with ice. Do not dilute this one.

4 oranges, 1 pineapple, 4 passionfruit, 1 lemon.
Sugar syrup - an equal qualtity of juice to sugar syrup. If you have 2 litres of juice, use 2 litres of sugar syrup.

Juice or crush the fruit and add to a big bowl. Add the sugar syrup and allow to cool. Then bottle and store in the fridge. Dilute with iced water to serve.
If you have fruit trees in the back yard and an abundance of lemons or oranges, juice the fruit and freeze it in plastic bottles. You can then make fruit cordial at any time of the year.


This syrup will keep for at least a year. Once opened, it will keep for months if refrigerated. The syrup is delicious over crepes, fresh fruit, custard, ice cream. To make cordial, a very small quantity of syrup can be added to a glass and filled with water. The syrup can also be added to milk to make a delicious drink.
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups calyces, chopped

Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the calyces and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the volume of liquid is reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and strain. Bottle the syrup while still hot into clean bottles and seal. The strained calyces can be eaten as a dessert with icecream or custard

Take about 1/2 cup fresh calyx and pour boiling water over it for a refreshing herbal tea.
1 kg of rosellas - remove the seed pods so just the calyces remain. Add 3 cups of water and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Add the juice of 3 lemons and 1 kg of sugar. Boil until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.

And for those of you who haven't seen rosellas, here is a photo of a small part of the huge harvest of them we had last year. They're one of the hibiscus family.


  1. thanks for the recipes Rhonda.

    Another thignto do with left over juice is freeze it in ice cube trays to add to drinks or cooking. Passionfruit pulp is delicious added to drinks like that!!

  2. >citric or tartaric acids>

    can one of these be substituted for the other. We have citric acid here, but I've never heart of tartaric acid. (A product called Fruit Fresh" is citric acid that we can buy in the aisle with the pectin and other canning supplies.)

    thanks for sharing these recipes!

  3. You're most welcome, ali

    yes Darlene, you can substitute.

  4. Oh, these cordials sound heavenly! Thanks for the recipes.


  5. Thanks so much for the cordial recipes I cant wait to try them. Do you have a recipe for Rosella cordial as the seeds you sent me are up and Im about to plant them out in the garden. Ive heard that rosella cordial and champaign is to die for. Marlo

  6. I made the lemon cordial recipe last week from your post on the ALS website. My son loves it and so has everyone else who has tried it! Correct me if i am wrong Rhonda, but I was told that cream of tartar and tartaric acid were the same thing?

    1. They are not the same. Use tartaric acid, it helps with taste and preserves.

  7. Yum, yum, YUM! How did you know I just spent an afternoon juicing fresh local oranges? Guess what I'm doing tomorrow? Thanks :-)

  8. cordials! i'd forgotten about cordials! my mom-mom used to make cordials when i was a little brings back wonderful memories of sitting under the trees in her front yard, eating blue crabs and watching the river move slowly by us!
    thank you rhonda jean!

  9. I'm so pleased you'll be reviving these old drinks. Having cordial ready to be served was a big part of old time hospitality when visitors arrived.

    Darlene, you can susstitute but you don't have to use either citric or tartaric acid in your cordials. Citric acid helps intensify flavour and tartaric acid helps a little with preserving the cordial. All cordials may be made without these acids. They need to be stored in the fridge though, and used within a couple of weeks.

    Lisa, I knew cream of tartar and tartaric acid were different but wasn't sure of the reason for that. This explains is well: "Cream of tartar is obtained when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide, transforming it into a salt. Grapes are the only significant natural source of tartaric acid, and cream of tartar is a obtained from sediment produced in the process of making wine."

    Marlo, I'll add a rosella cordial recipe to the cordial post today. I'm pleased to hear the seeds are up.

    Julie, local oranges will make the nicest cordial. I hope your tirbe likes it.

    Jayedee, sipping cordial under the trees on the river bank sounds like the ideal way to drink it. Enjoy!

  10. Thank you so much for adding the rosella recipes, Im so excited about making them all. Marlo

  11. Can you bottle these cordial recipes in your preserving kit? I've got an enormous glut of lemons here and no freezer space, so I was wondering if I could make lots of lemon cordial and bottle it....

  12. Raspberry cordial reminds me of Anne of Green Gables:)

  13. Found your website because I needed to know what a fruit cordial was after reading the following news story.
    A hot drink may help reduce the symptoms of common colds and flu, according to new research by Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre. New research at the Centre has found that a simple hot drink of fruit cordial can provide immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness.

    Staying Healthy - Cheryl

  14. Thanks for the recipes. I'm so making orangeaid with my boys tomorrow.


  15. Try this one, its great with a few drops of bitters,in a glass of beer or whatever. I just use bitters and water!.

    Recipe for Lime Cordial
    Rind of 4 limes
    Juice of 8 limes
    30g Citric acid
    1 1/2 kg Sugar
    15g Tartaric acid
    Cooking Instructions
    Boil about 3 litres of water.
    Combine citric acid, sugar and tartaric acid.
    Pour boiling water over the above-prepared mixture.
    Stir to dissolve.
    Add rind and juice.
    Cover it and leave overnight.
    Strain the mixture and keep it in a bottle.
    Dilute with water or soda water according to taste.

    I am growing my own lime tree now, so hope to use them to make my next batch.

  16. Thanks for your cordial recipes. I have made heaps. Gave bottles at christmas with great feedback. Passed receipe on to my daughter who add Lemon grass and Ginger to her lemon and orange cordial with an interesting result. I always have a bottle on the go in the fridge now and cannot remember when I last purchased cordial.

  17. I made the raspberry cordial on the weekend. It was so easy and is beautiful. I saved the pulp and am using that to flavour my breakfast yoghurt. My next project is the ginger beer.


  18. I am a long time lurker on your blog, breaking cover :-). I live in the uk but am about to move to canada and was sad to discover that the commercial fruit cordials, so common in the uk, are hard to find and expensive in Ca. Having found you recipes, I have this week experimented with some frozen blackberries and the result is delicious. I cant wait to get out there now and make lots of different cordials :-D

  19. are you using raw sugar or white sugar for your syrup?

    I used raw and it went very dark - I don't know if it was meant to or if I've done something wrong lol

  20. Hi,
    I just love your site so inspiring and very resourceful. I was wondering if you could substitute the sugar syrup with stevia. I'm just trying to reduce the sugar intake of my house. Is there a significance to the sugar other than making it sweet. Thanks for your time and thanks for you site.

  21. Someone asked above and I'm wondering too.

    Can these cordials be processed in a water bath and kept on the shelf?

    Our orange tree if loaded with fruit and I'd love to make a big batch of cordial if it will keep.

    Thanks for this wonderful blog your experience and knowledge is very valuable.


  22. THe kids and I tried out the lemon cordial recipe today - its a huge hit and was really simple to make. Thank You - its nice to know they can have a 'treat'; drink and it isnt filled with nasty preservatives, colours etc

    Nic xxx

    PS I have blogged about it and linked back to your recipe and wonderful blog

  23. I got a link to this post from the newest You, Me and the Kitchen Sink (May 29, 2010).

    Sounds like the kind of fruit drink we most often make with lemons: lemonade. Good to know how to make it with other fruits.

    Such fun recipes, all the time! Thanks Rhonda!

  24. I intend to substitute chewable vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for citric.

    PS: I love you. Thankyou for this one post. Now I will go and read all the others.

  25. Hi, I love your recipes and will be trying some out today. I already do a lemon cordial at least once a month from our abundant tree and wanted to know if you know of a non-alcoholic grape cordial recipe? Our vines are heavy with fruit and I would love to test some recipes out with them.

  26. Would any of thee cordial recipes work for watermelon?
    I have a whole load of it and I'd like to turn it into a cordial.

  27. Just made my first ever batch of lemon cordial and I looooove it. Never buying bought cordial again!!

  28. Hi just found you through lemon cordial. I have been given some lemonade fruit so thought I would make. Some cordial or my grandchildren. Will let you know how it turns out

  29. Thanks so much for the recipe. I love homemade cordial! I just have one question. I made this recipe using organic raw sugar. The final taste had a hint of toffee flavour. I'm not sure if this is because of the type of sugar or because I heated the syrup too fast or high. I've used this sugar in lemon cordial and haven't had the same problem. Do you have any idea why this could be?

    I've just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! Thank you!

  30. You just reminded me of my Nan's cordial recipe. Very easy and delicious when served cold or during winter, hot with a tea spoon of honey.

    You also don't need as many lemons which is a bonus if you don't have a tree of your own or are making a lot of it.

    4 cups sugar (we always use white)
    1oz (30g) citric or tartaric acid (I use citric)
    2 lemons finely sliced
    4 cups of boiling water

    Put ingredients into a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Stir until sugar disolves. Cover and let stand over night on then bench. Drain into a large jug and put into the fridge. Use a sieve to remove the pips and lemon when draining and press the lemons to get all the juice out. It makes 2 litres of concentrate.

    Just use like you do store bought cordial.

  31. I wanted to let you know that these cordials sound FANTASTIC and may have saved our new life. I now know what I'll be doing today! We moved here to the USA 6 weeks ago and have had the most horrific time trying to find cordials. Being British, we lived on them back in the UK. Here in the US, EVERYTHING has colours in which my 6yr old daughter is allergic to and goes out of control on. As we'll be living here for at least 3 1/2yrs, a MAHOOSIVE Thankyou is owed to saving our sanity and supplying these recipes :-) Caroline, Florida

  32. I found your blog a few months ago and now I am hooked on reading about 'the simple life'.

    I am surpised to see our 'dear' sorrel appearing all the way across the world in Australia. Rosella is called Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) in Trinidad, West Indies. We make a drink (Spiced Sorrel Drink) similar to the one you described, as an important part of our national Christmas celebration. This blogger provides the recipe :

    Over here, they say, sorrel has a host of medicinal properties including protection against cancer, hypertension, urinary tract infection and diabetes. I don't know if all these benefits are real or backed by science.

    1. I am about to try making lilly pilly cordial. I have made lilly pilly jelly very successfully just with the fruit sugar and lemon juice. So here goes. I guess I will have to cook and strain the fruit first Betty

  33. Hmm I'm wondering if you can make cordial without the sugar? Can you substitute stevia for example? Do you have to add a sweetener at all? Thanks for any reply!

  34. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it but you don't need jamsetta at all for Rosella jam but you do need to first boil the pods in the water you will use till they are clear. The seed pods are pack full of pectin - no need for purchasing another product.

  35. Not only had I not seen rosellas, I had never heard of them. Thank you for sharing.

  36. I tried making the orange cordial today, using Cara Cara oranges. I felt the juice was so sweet on its own that I cut down the sugar to 2 cups for 1 quart of water. I was looking for a tarter, more refreshing flavor.
    My goodness, it's too sweet at even half the sugar! I realize that individual tastes differ, and that this will be diluted with water/ice, but it tastes of sweetness first and oranges second.
    I think you have to adjust the sugar in the simple syrup according to the drink you're making; oranges are naturally sweet and require less, while lemons/limes would need the full sugar/water ratio. Grapefruit would probably require a sugar/water ratio somewhere between the two.

    Well, it was a fun experiment at any rate! I will probably juice some grapefruit and use it to adjust the sweetness of the orange cordial.



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