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I love elderflowers. When I saw that Seedling Farm was selling them at the Green City Market last week, I immediately bought a flat of them.
They are delicate tiny flowers that have a brief season and a big heady fragrance. They are mildly floral, slightly anise-y, and they pair beautifully with citrus flavors.
They’re the main flavor in the popular liqueur St. Germain, and they’re easy to like. They grow all over the place, and if you’re lucky enough to come across some, snip a few bunches and bring them home.
My favorite thing to do with them is to make some kind of syrup to preserve their delicate fragrance and flavor. This particular syrup is based on the traditional British elderflower cordial and is adapted from Pam Corbin’s always reliable The River Cottage Preserves Handbook.
It’s incredibly easy to make. It just requires zesting some citrus, heating some water and sugar and pouring it all over a pile of flowers.
Then everything steeps for 24 hours or so and gets strained and bottled. The only slightly unusual part is that a teaspoon of citric acid goes in for some preserving power and a bit of sour flavor. (You should be able to find citric acid in the canning area of any grocery store. It’s sometimes called lemon salt.)
This syrup is a bit too sweet and, well, syrupy to drink on its own. But when mixed with sparkling water it makes a lovely soda.
It would be lovely with lemon juice for an elderflower lemonade and it also goes well with gin if you’re a fan of cocktails. It’s nice to pour a little over fresh berries for a simple glaze. And it would be great in a white sangria with berries or stone fruits.
I’m pretty thrilled to know I’ll have some around for the rest of the summer.
(If you’re looking for something else to do with elderflowers, give these lemon elderflower popsicles a try.)
- About 25 elderflower heads
- 7 cups (about 1.5 liters) water
- 5 cups (1 kg) sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons, 1 orange, 1/2 a grapefruit
- 1 teaspoon citric acid, optional
- Place the elderflowers in a large heat safe bowl. In a large saucepan, add the sugar and the citrus zest and stir well. Add the water and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour over the elderflowers. Stir in the citric acid. Let sit at room temperature overnight or for around 24 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store in sterilized bottles or jars in the refrigerator.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 2mg Carbohydrates: 65g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 64g Protein: 0g