A summer elderflower cordial is a lovely, light drink, made even more special with a bit of fizzy water and a touch of white wine.
We served it at the Village Heritage Award Ceremony at Dovecote this week attended by the Chamber & Cashiers Historical Society. It was a hit!
Elderflowers are the precursors of ..yes, you guessed it! Elderberries. This beautiful fluffy, white flower head is blooming now in our mountains of western NC. However, at lower elevations, they’ve been blooming for several weeks. It is a pervasive plant found across the continent in moist places and has strap like leaves. It is know as Sambucus canadensis ( American Elderberry) or S. nigra ( European Elderberry), or in Cherokee as gogasaga.
One especially fruitful edition of the European golden elderflower lives at Chattooga Gardens and provides us a barometer for what’s happin’ in the elderflower world. It bloomed 2 weeks early this year.
Elderflower/elderberry history is fascinating.
I love ethnobotanical history and The Herb Society of America published this excellent article on the elder plant: berries, flowers, uses and lore. Herb Society of America’s Elderberry Research
Crafting Elderberry Cordials, Wines and Presse
As far as creating an elderflower drink, I do the following each year. Watch these Garden Talk Salon Videos fro last year and you will be instantly entertained and informed!
…and Thanks for the Gift!
Interesting, I found 2 sacks of elderflower heads, the loveliest panicles/corymbs I’ve ever seen, hanging on my doorknob this am. If you left them for me, know that they are on primary and already soaking to become…something yummy! I owe you a bottle, so please step forward!
My favorite recipe for Elderflower Cordial
l use the traditional recipe from Scotland & Ireland and found this one at british food
- 1k /2 ¼ lbs sugar
- 1.5 litres / 6 cups boiling water
- 4 medium lemons, washed
- 30 large Elderflower heads, shake to remove any insects
- 55g / 2 oz citric acid (available from grocery )
- Place the sugar into a large saucepan/stockpot or a large Pyrex bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and leave to cool. ( other recipes say to pour hot liquid over the dry ingredients…I’ve done it both ways)
- Grate the rind of the lemons with a fine grater, add to the sugar water.
- Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the water. Add the citric acid and stir, then finally add the flower heads to the water and stir again.
- Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours.
- Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.
- Using a funnel, fill sterilized bottles (see note below).
- Seal and store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator) for a few weeks or freeze in plastic bottles to keep for longer (see note below).
- Store opened stock in the fridge
- NOTE: I often do not have enough elderflowers, so just halve the recipe. I also often put the lemon rind thru thru my juicer…caution as this can really tart it up! It really is best tasting when this exact recipe is followed.
My favorite recipe for Elderflower Wine
This elderflower wine recipe is from England and found in the archives of My Favorite Magazine, Country Life.
1 pint elderflowers (destalked)
8 pints boiling water
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Add lemon rind to the elderflowers, pour boiling water over them and stand for four days, stirring occasionally. Strain through a fine sieve or muslin, then stir in sugar, lemon juice and yeast. Ferment at room temperature (not below 18˚C). When the bubbling has ceased, stir the wine and allow to settle for three days. Strain again carefully. Put in a demijohn to mature for three months, then bottle.
NOTE: I used this recipe and left my elderflower wine in the fridge for a year. It cleared and is ultra-fantastic. I also froze lots of it. It is highly volatile, so if you rack it…watch out for exploding bottles!
Read more at http://www.countrylife.co.uk/food-drink/recipes/how-to-make-elderflower-cordial-and-wine-33684#B25BUvbIGEmU534j.99
Most of you know I am an anglophile and learned about elderflower drinks while there many decades ago. I got hooked on Elderflower Presse by the legendary, Rosemary Verey, who had me grate lemon rind for dinner drinks! Never heard of Elderflower Presse or “Champaign”? It is a naturally sparkling summer drink made from elderflowers and is served very young…the recipe is at above Country Life link.
Enjoy the fruits of your labors this summer and let me know of your successes , medicinal uses and pretty foods using elderflowers.
Stay tuned for elderberry recipes later this summer!
Mary Palmer Dargan, The Boundless Gardener
Please join us for The Garden Talk Salon held weekly from May till end August at Dovecote..please visit dargan.com/dovecote-events