It’s that time of year: the delicate and unique fragrance of elderflowers wafts through the air. The creamy yellow-white clusters are now in bloom, heralding the coming purple berries. Having previously tried a remarkable imported elderflower soda, I thought I’d try my hand at making an infused elderflower syrup that could be used to flavor water kefir or create delicious summer cocktails.
First step: pick many elderflowers. The recipe I used calls for a quart jar full of the blossoms. If you’ve seen elderflowers, you know they’re tiny, so that’s a lot of flowers. Fortunately, the bushes have grown large and big clusters of the flowers were within easy reach. The chickens came around when they saw that I had a container in my hand, but all they got were a few unlucky beetles that flew off the flowers.
Second step: bring the flowers inside, remove as much stem as possible, try to get out all the bugs (there were tiny inchworms, beetles, miniscule ants – I believe all were removed and relocated outside). You actually don’t want to wash the blooms because much of the flavor and fragrance is in the pollen. The “cleaned” flowers filled the jar nicely.
Third step: dissolve sugar in hot water, let it cool a bit, then pour over the flowers in the jar. I gave the mixture a good stir to distribute the pollen, then capped it and will let it infuse for 48 hours. After 48 hours, I’ll strain out the flowers and place the elderberry syrup in the fridge until it’s needed. My first use will be in making elderflower water kefir: refreshingly effervescent and (hopefully) perfumed with elderflower.
Are you thinking “hey, you pulled off the flowers, so there won’t be any berries in late summer for making elderberry syrup (AKA purple fizz bomb) or wine”? Never fear – there are still plenty of blossoms left on the bushes. There will be elderberry syrup and/or wine…if I can beat the birds to it.