Out and about in Kent this last Monday, a bank holiday, we couldn’t fail to enjoy the late Spring beauty of the country lanes – nothing makes me feel as if Summer is really on the way than when the frothy elderflower blossoms appear. We have a small bush in our garden which yields just enough flowers each year to make a small batch of elderflower syrup: if the flowers are a herald of Summer then the syrup is definitely its flavour. If you want to make this Syrup you have to act immediately: the elder is already in flower here in London and the South East: I think it may already be too late for some parts of the country. This picture is actually last Summer’s batch. By the time I was ready to post the Elderflowers were over so I determined I would save it for this year. It is certainly a popular drink at the moment, probably because it is very seasonal: I have spotted at least three (different) variations from fellow food bloggers in the past few days.
I first made Elderflower Syrup, or Cordial, many years ago. I remember it was orange and lemon flavoured but with the elderflowers adding a delicious scent. I have no idea of the whereabouts of my original recipe, but after some research I based my version on this quick Elderflower Syrup recipe, which seemed familiar, at joannasfood. Many recipes add Citric Acid (there is one giving this method on the same site) but it can be difficult to find and quite expensive for a relatively small amount. This quick recipe uses just citrus juice (lemon but not orange) and was certainly successful. It lasted for a week or two in the fridge in plastic bottles but was quickly drunk so I have no idea how long it would have lasted. Some recipes suggest it will last about a month at most in the fridge. I gather that to be sure of keeping the syrup for longer it can be frozen in plastic containers or even frozen in ice cube trays, drunk topped up with still or sparkling water or even wine. Try adding a a few tablespoonfuls of this syrup to a fruit salad for its wonderful perfumed taste. One warning though: flowers should be picked while they are still young and white, discarding the brown ones which will taint the flavour of the drink. Picking the flowers early in the day and using them as quickly as possible afterwards is also recommended. This recipe uses lemon as the citrus content but it would be interesting to do a lemon and orange version, as with my old original recipe, or even substitute lime juice. I have seen bottles of commercially produced elderflower and lime drink so it could be worth a try.
1 litre water
2 lemons, juiced
10 large elderflower heads – about 30g (young & pale colour – no browning)
1. Add the lemon juice to the water and stir in the sugar.
2. Put onto the heat and boil for about a minute until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Put in the elderflower heads and remove from the heat. Cover and leave to cool.
4. When it’s completely cold strain the liquid well. I used the clean cut off foot from a pair of tights, which can then be discarded.
5. Bottle into plastic rather than glass bottles as occasionally the liquid can start to ferment. I think it is best to store this in the fridge as I am not sure about the shelf life. Some recipes imply this will only keep for around a 1month.
6. Dilute to taste.