Elderflower syrup

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Last night I completed my first batch of elderflower syrup, made from the flowers of my own elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) shrubs. In past years I’ve received a jar of this lovely stuff from a friend, but she decided to avoid the sugar this year, so I made a small batch myself. Putting aside all the medicinal properties people have traditionally believed that elderberry possesses, the flower syrup is delicious in seltzer, iced tea, or even plain water as a summer drink. In Europe, you can buy elderflower soft drinks and liqueurs.

Making the syrup takes several days but mostly involves waiting while the flowers steep in a bowl on the kitchen table. You start by clipping some just-opened elderberry flowers and gathering together the other ingredients: a lemon and a small amount of simple syrup. Most recipes I found were for very large amounts–a gallon or more. I cut it down to 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar for the syrup, 1 lemon, and 1 dozen large elderflower umbels (minus bugs).

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Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. In the meantime, pick over the flowers to remove all bugs and debris, remove the stems, zest the lemon, and squeeze the juice of half the lemon.

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Stir the zest and juice into the flowers in the bowl. When the sugar and water come to a boil, add the syrup to the flower mixture. Cover and set aside for 3 to 5 days.

The flowers will gradually turn brown in the syrup, and the mixture will develop a delightful but very subtle floral fragrance. Strain it through a sieve and several thicknesses of cheesecloth into jars or other containers.

The syrup will keep for a month or more in the refrigerator, longer if you sterilize the jars. I wound up with 3 cups of syrup, or two nice jam jars full, and plenty of flowers left on the bushes to turn into berries in the summer. Iced tea, anyone?

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One thought on “Elderflower syrup

  1. Pingback: Sambucus nigra | Find Me A Cure

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