I’m enchanted with elderflowers. I think them second only to almonds in my book of things I’m most in love with. Elderflowers are tiny and delicate and grow in cluster formations that are called umbels. The taste is subtle and refreshing. Around here, they bloom in late May or early June and the scent is a honey-floral one and teases you with the promise of summer around the corner. You have to pick them at just the right time for they quickly fade and lose their scent and sweetness. Even the name sounds ethereal, like something fairies or elves would lace in their hair. And I recently learned they say sambucus (elder) is great for fighting the flu!
My twin brother makes a carbonated elderflower water. Luckily for him, my parents had all the bottling supplies needed to do so since they were amateur wine makers before my brother and I were born. (Actually, our very existence can be blamed on celebrating the fact that their blueberry wine won a blue ribbon back in August of ’84!) My brother dug these supplies out about four or five years ago and has been making this ‘champagne’ every year. I’m ashamed to say I never really helped him make this because…well, honestly, it didn’t interest me. All the work cleaning and preparing the bottles and supplies, then (and mostly) the fear of exploding bottles (luckily that’s never happened) and all the maverick corks (that happened—a lot), wasn’t too appealing to me. But when he couldn’t do it this past spring, the torch was passed on to me. The reasons mentioned before left me opting for a simple syrup that can be used in mixed drinks, both alcoholic or non-alcoholic. I also picked enough flowers to make a liqueur.
Why all this talk of elderflowers now? I meant to do it back in July but at the time I was making the syrup and liqueur, I wasn’t eating sugar so I wasn’t able to actually enjoy any of it! But recently, around the New Year I came down with a nasty head cold and found myself craving something fizzy for my throat. Since no one here really drinks soda, we don’t keep it in the house. Instead I dug a jar of syrup from the pantry and a bottle of club soda. I’ve been on a bit of an elderflower soda kick ever since.
As you can see in the one photo, the syrup is rich honey color. I simply mix about 1 to 2 tablespoons of it in a cup of club soda for a tasty drink.
Tomorrow I’ll go into more detail and share some links, notes and tips on harvesting and making the syrup.