It’s the season of elderflowers; white lacy umbels, like fairy umbrellas, crown the young shoots of our native elderberry plant. While the berries that will form after the blooms are delicious and useful in their own right, the flowers themselves contain a flavor all their own, reminiscent of honey and the wild, delicate smell of elderflower, which somehow intensifies in the steeping process.
Like all spring flowers, it will not last forever. The flowers are also available dried, however, which can extend the season indefinitely. Here we use the dried variety.
A note here, for your wildcrafting safety; the dried flowers for this recipe are purchased from a reputable source in packaged form. These dried flowers come from black elderberry (sambuccus nigra or sambuccus mexicana) and NOT from the red elderberry (sambuccus racemosa), which is toxic. Please be sure of your identification and do not forage for wild foods unless you are an expert at plant identification.
This is a non-alcoholic drink, really a kind of simple syrup, that is meant to be added to cocktails or to sparkling water. Children love it, mixed with sparkling mineral water, on special occasions, and many adults do, too! It was a key ingredient in our recent experiments with Rhubarb Wine cocktails, and can also be paired beautifully with gin, tonic water, and water kefir, to name a few. Even just a tablespoon in a glass of plain ice water is a refreshing treat.
Make a simple syrup using a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. For a 1 quart batch, we used 3 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar, boiled until the sugar was fully dissolved.
Place the elderflowers in a quart jar. Add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid, and the sliced lemon, if using.
Let the syrup cool, then pour it over the elderflower mixture.
Allow this to steep in the fridge for 24-48 hours; any longer may induce fermentation.
Strain the flowers and lemon from the syrup.
Bottle in clamp top bottles, or in a clean quart jar.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
NOTE:This recipe may be made without the citric acid, but it will not keep for as long without the acid. Use within 1 week if making without citric acid.
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