Elderflowers are popping along the roadsides on my side of the world right now – this is a time of year I wait for all spring long.
The world is warm, nights are long, and flowers scent the air around every corner you turn.
Elderflowers can be found in many places, but the best to use for foraging are the ones that grow on paths less traveled.
When foraging for elderflowers, try to pick them from a low traffic area – the flowers are best when not washed, because so much of the flavor comes from the pollen, so harvesting them in clean areas helps.
Also, remember to take only a few clusters from each tree. Spread out your collecting and leave some for others. Elderflower blossoms grow into elderberries, which are used medicinally (my personal immune boosting favorite) and become food for the birds in the fall. Forage thoughtfully!
Elderflower syrup is a delicate, sweet syrup with a lovely floral flavor that can be used in many applications from desserts, pouring on pancakes, and sweetening drinks.
Add a little to a glass of sparkling water for a refreshing summery beverage – or use it in a cocktail.
Try to pull away the flowers one little cluster at a time – you do not want a lot of stems in your syrup. Elderflower bark is toxic, and this extends to the branches and stems. Having a few of the thin stems make their way into your syrup shouldn’t hurt you, but keep it minimal.
You can use citric acid as a preservative in your syrup instead of lemon juice. However, I do not know a lot of people who keep it on hand, so I’m sticking with good old lemons. They add a nice bit of acid to the syrup, as well, helping to cut the sweetness and enhancing the floral notes.
You’ll want to make sure that your sugar water is not hot when you pour it over your blossoms to steep – too hot of syrup will squelch a lot of that delicate floral flavor and leave you with a syrup that is more vegetal in taste than anything else. The main purpose of heating the sugar and water together is just to dissolve the sugar to make a smooth liquid.
This syrup will store for months in the fridge, if it lasts that long at all.
Check online to see if elderflowers grow in your area – then get out and get a few bunches of blossoms before they’re gone! The season is short and there’s nothing quite like elderflower.
More Elderflower Recipes:
Elderflower Simple Syrup
Serves: 2½ cups syrup
- 2½ cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 cups Water
- 1 Lemon, sliced
- 3 cups Elderflower Blossoms(from about 15 heads)
- Place the elderflower blossoms and lemon slices in a glass mason jar. Try to keep as many stems out as possible - a little stem here or there will be fine.
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
- As soon as the liquid begins to boil, remove from heat.
- Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Pour the warm syrup into the jar of elderflowers. Cover and set in a cool, dark place for 1-2 days.
- The liquid will take on a yellow hue as it sits. When ready, pour through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract flavor and lemon juice.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Will keep for several months.
- Use as a sweetener for cocktails, or serve mixed with sparkling water and a lemon slice for a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage.