My quest to make ‘Granny’s Lemon’

Growing up, there were some very distinct choices for squash at home: Robinson’s Fruit & Barley Orange, non-brand Cherries and Berries, or, ‘Granny’s Lemon’.

Granny, my mum’s mum, up until fairly recently, regularly made batches of homemade lemon cordial – and this stuff is so distinctive, so lemony, and oh so very sweet. And it’s also delicious.

Earlier this year as Spring got closer, I tweeted jokingly / totally seriously:

I feel like ?? it’s not too much to ask ?? to have a cottage garden ?? where i can grow elderflower ?? for homemade cordial ?? which i sell at the local market????

@thomas__joy – Apr 18

And since then, I’ve been determined to give it a go. It’s slightly too early in the year for elderflower cordial, so I figured what better way to get in some practice than granny’s lemon?!

I knew that the recipe was floating around in one of the old family recipe card folders, so I spoke to my mum, and true enough, there it was. I spoke to granny the other day on the phone and mentioned that she actually got this recipe from the wife of the headmaster at Alleyn’s School, with whom she used to play tennis – so I’m sure that this recipe actually goes back much further!

So, I ordered myself some Kilner bottles to use once I’d made it (granny always used old screw-top wine bottles, but I do distinctly remember receiving a bottle one time that hadn’t had the red wine washed out of it), and once they arrived, it was time.

The original recipe card for ‘Granny’s Lemon’


I made it. It’s delicious.

What caught me slightly off-guard is the fact that the recipe calls for 3lbs of sugar. That’s roughly 1.4kg, and it makes just shy of 2.5l of cordial, so I’ll let you do the maths. I also made a gross over-estimation with the amount of citric acid you’d need to make this. The recipe needs 2oz., roughly 56g.

I accidentally ordered 3kg.

So, needless to say, I have some spare when it comes making elderflower cordial!

So, it’s made! It took less than an hour, and whilst you might not want a huge quantity of it in one sitting, it has the same distinct fresh & sharp taste I remember.

If you’d like to make your own granny’s lemon, then I’ve put the recipe below – do let me know if you make a batch!

I’ll be sure to update you when it comes to making elderflower cordial…

— Thomas

Granny's Lemon

Sweet, sharp cordial perfect for the summer months!


  • 6 small lemons
  • 2oz. Citric Acid
  • 3lbs. White Sugar (Caster or Granulated)
  • Water


  1. Cut the lemons in half, and squeeze the juice, making sure you set aside the empty lemon halves to use later.
  2. Dissolve all the sugar and the citric acid in 1.5 pints of cold water, adding the sugar gradually, until it becomes like a syrup.
  3. Add lemon juice to the sugar-water mixture.
  4. Put the lemon skins in a liquidiser / blender with 1 pint of freshly boiled water.
  5. Liquidise the lemons / boiling water together, and strain the mixture through a fine sieve into the sugar-water-juice mixture from step 3. Make sure you press on the pulp in the sieve to get all the water / oil from the lemon skins.
  6. Using a jug or a funnel, transfer to sterilised glass bottles.

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