We are spoiled with nature in Northern California, but one thing missing in our garden landscape is elderflowers. Elderberry bushes are prolific in North America and Europe, growing in gardens and the wild. The ripe berries are often used to make wine and marmalade. But, in my opinion, the best part are the flowers which peak in the early summer weeks. The blossoms can be harvested and left to macerate with sugar and lemon for several days to make a syrup which imparts a soft floral and honeyed flavor to drinks and desserts. Dilute a few spoons of the syrup with water for a soft drink, or with champagne or wine for a cordial. The flowers may also be dipped in a light batter and fried, serving as a light dessert.
When we lived in Denmark, elderberry bushes were everywhere. They grew in our garden and along the paths we walked into town. In June, after a welcome warm spell, we picked baskets of elderflowers and made the concentrated syrup that we would enjoy throughout the season. So, naturally, when we return to Denmark on visits, if the timing is right we continue the tradition of making elderflower syrup.
Makes 2 quarts
40 elderflower sprigs
4 untreated lemons with skin, cut in slices
4 pounds granulated sugar
3 ounces food grade citric acid
2 quarts boiling water
Thoroughly rinse the elderflower sprigs. Place in a large pot with a lid. Add lemon slices. Add sugar and citric acid. Pour water over elderflowers. Stir to ensure the sugar dissolves. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4-5 days. Strain syrup through a fine meshed sieve or cheese cloth. Pour into sterilized bottles. Refrigerate until use. (Syrup may also be frozen in ice cube trays.)
To serve, mix a small amount of syrup with water, white wine or champagne to taste.