Don’t get too excited. This is not the fermented, alcoholic elderflower cordial most people think of, just a simple syrup – but it sure can impress. It can be added to wine, champagne, lemonade or sparkling water for a refreshing floral drink or added to berry desserts, whipped cream, puddings and homemade ice cream for an exotic je ne sais quois.
I’ve never been successful at keeping this from developing mold on the top, no matter how much lemon, sugar or citric acid I add to the recipe, even stored in sterile jars in the refrigerator. So this year I’m skipping the citric acid, reducing the sugar and putting it straight into the freezer. It’s just too heartbreaking to have to discard this lovely golden liquid. I added an orange to brighten the taste a bit, too. By freezing the syrup in ice cube trays, you’ll have just the right size to add 3 or 4 cubes to each glass and the taste will intensify as you sip!
I’ve read that some flowers can have an unpleasant odor, resembling cat pee. Ew. Check before harvesting. It’s best to pick the flowers as they are just opening. If you are not in possession of an elderberry bush, check along the roadsides in June, for they grow wild in this here parts. I planted one many years ago and it’s long gone but a few seedlings out in the field, propagated by birds is my guess, now tower 10 feet tall. That leaves quite a few flowers for berries to form for the bird’s enjoyment. I’m not quick enough for that harvest.
- 20 elderflower heads
- 4 cups water
- 8 cups sugar (yes, that's a reduction)
- 2 organic lemons, thinly sliced
- 1 organic orange, thinly sliced (optional)
- Shake any bugs off of the elderflowers. Snip off the tops of the flowers, discarding the main stems and leaves.
- Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. Stir gently.
- When the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
- Cover tightly and let steep for 24 hours.
- Bring the syrup back to boil one more time. Allow to cool.
- Strain through 2 layers of cheesecloth.
- Place in small freezer containers or ice cube trays, and freeze for up to 6 months.
Don’t dismay when some of the flowers turn a scary brown color as they come to a simmer. That’s just how it is and it doesn’t affect the final golden yellow result.
So get your lawn chair ready, set out the prettiest glasses you can find, pluck a sprig of pineapple mint for a garnish and prepare to luxuriate in the taste of summer.
PS The carafe is from the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, hence the ER. My friend Lorrie brought it from England for her antique shop and I grabbed it!
We agreed it must never have been used because the 62 year old sticker is in perfect condition.