Oh. My. Goodness! Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) is one of my most favorite things to forage! Where we live, here in Scotland, it is just a short walk up to the canal towpath where elderflower grows in abundance. Of course, the best trees that day seemed to be over the footbridge and up into the field. The meadow had grass up to our hips. We found some good bushes, but, of course, the best bush was surrounded by nettles. No thank you! I’ll leave those for the birds!
This year seems to be an especially good year for elderflower. It is everywhere! We went down to The Borders, in southern Scotland, over the weekend for a day out. My kids were calling from the back seat, “Did you see that Elderflower tree, Mom? It was HUGE, and the blossoms were GIGANTIC!” And they were not exaggerating!
Last week we went on a walk along the canal for the single purpose of gathering elderflower. It was great fun! It’s as easy as berry picking as long as you mind the nettles!
So..what’s the big deal about elderflower anyway?
One word. Cordial. Yep! It’s as easy to find on the grocery aisle as any of your favorite carbonated beverages – but I’m pretty sure those are not REAL elderflower. I’m guessing they are some copycat cooked up in a lab to fool your taste buds. But once you have tickled your tongue with the taste of fresh elderberry cordial, there’s no turning back.
Here’s my Recipe.
I looked at an old Scottish cookbook and then kinda did my own thing (like I usually do! LOL):
- 40 Elderflower blossoms (when in full bloom) – honestly I just dumped in everything I had. It was WAY more than 40 (probably double), but I wanted a super taste of elderflower!
- 1500 gm granulated sugar – again the recipe called for 3.25 lbs! You are just making a sugar syrup with it, so thick or thin, you decide.
- 2 lemons, cut up – well I did 3 because I had some smaller organic ones. I also juiced them first because the lemon brings out the true elderflower flavour. It also helps maintain the flavour and nice color.
- 1500 ml water – look, something I didn’t change!
- Ok, so put the water and sugar in a pan and heat to just beginning to boil (those little bubbles, NOT a rolling boil). Stir regularly to dissolve the sugar while you wait for the little bubbles.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. So, put it on a wooden cutting board, the cool side of the stove, you know what to do. Just no more cooking sugar and water, K?
- Add in the elderflower blossoms. (while the water and sugar mixture are heating up, take some time to remove any leaves, thick stalks or anything else that you might not want in your Elderflower Cordial.
- Add the lemons and their juice.
- Stir it all up! Now let it sit covered on the countertop for at least 2 days (but not more than 4 as you might end up with champagne!). Give it a stir a couple times a day. Enjoy inhaling every time you lift the lid.
- After it has steeped for a few days, the flowers will be ready to strain off and leave all their yummy essence in the sugar syrup. So, using either muslin cloth, a jelly bag or a fine mesh sieve over a clean pot, ladle in the mixture. It will drain into the pot. Dispose of the spent elderflowers and then decant the syrup into a clean, sterilized bottle with tight-fitting lid.
So you have your Elderflower Cordial. Now what!
Well, besides admiring at the lovely product of your hard work, you can use it in many ways. We like it in a tall glass with ice and sparkling water. Add as much cordial as tastes good to you. I pour about 2 tablespoons for an 8 oz glass. Then just fill the rest with fizzy water or still water. It’s also yummy to add to a fruit salad and I even drink it like a hot tea some mornings if I’m feeling a bit under the weather.
You will want to store your pretty bottle in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil. It
should last a week or 2, will likely be finished off well before it has a chance to “go funny”.
It has great medicinal properties for fighting colds, and boosting your immune system. I’m no doctor, I just know that it often kicks the cold bug before it can get started. Up next, Black Currant Cordial!