Something I’ve always wanted to have a go at has been elderflower syrup, but each year, I’ve managed to remember just as the blossoms are disappearing. This year though, I happened to be out & about at just the right time, snips in hand, and got foraging with determination…and then realised we actually have a bush at the end of the garden!
There are many different recipes around the same theme (for example, this one from the lovely Emma which I found after mine had been infusing a while already). I’d kind of had a scooch around the interwebs & then made mine up from gathered ideas, so my measurements aren’t quite exact, but I always think these things take a little trial and error to create your own way!
Recipes often suggest around 25 elderflower heads – well I didn’t have clue if that meant the whole thing, or the smaller stems or what! So, after shaking out (to get rid of bugs), a good rinse & snipping as close the the flower heads as possible (too much stem can be toxic), I ended up with a good sieve full, which seemed about right.
I then added 500g of sugar (I know that because it was the whole bag!), approx. 1 litre of water, 2 tablespoons each of lemon & lime juice, and about 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste to a large pan. I bought the liquid to a boil and stirred until all the sugar had dissolved. I then reduced the heat & allowed to simmer for about 10 minutes (but I don’t think that’s a requirement), removed from heat & left to cool.
I divided the flower heads into two jars with airtight lids & poured the liquid into each. The top flowers will go brown so you can weigh them down into the liquid if you want to, again, I don’t think it makes a difference. Now, I had read that this should be left to infuse in a dark cool cupboard for up to four weeks. Mine was just over it’s first week when I read Emma’s post, which suggested one to three days in the fridge. So, since I’m not very patient, I went happily onto the next step. Perhaps infusing for longer makes for stronger flavour, I don’t know, but I was happy with mine so I’m working on the week basis in future.
The next step is to place a muslin or tea-towel over a bowl and strain the liquid through the fabric. I didn’t get any photos because I was too excited. I then proceeded to overfill my bowl and spill precious syrup all across the kitchen table – it’s a simple process, just check your bowl is big enough! Anyway, I still had plenty, and after sterilising a carefully saved lemonade bottle (in the oven), I poured in my syrup and popped it in the fridge.
There’s lots you can do with your elderflower syrup…As well as making a simple cordial (try sparkling water for a little fizz), you can mix it with fruit juice or use it to infuse vodka or gin for cocktails. You could also add it to homemade ice-lollies, for flavouring cooking or baking, or you could reduce it further & use as a drizzle for pancakes. We had it over popcorn the other day – delicious!
I don’t actually drink alcohol often, but I had these glasses* from Rose & Grey to play with, and I thought they made the perfect excuse to try an elderflower syrup & champagne cocktail… Ingredients:
\\ 1 pear, sliced finely
\\ 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional, could switch for extra syrup)
\\ 1 tablespoon of elderflower syrup
\\ 2 tablespoons of pear juice
\\ champagne or sparkling wine to top
\\ dessert spoon
1. add the sugar & elderflower syrup. stir together
2. hold the dessert spoon against the side of the side of glass and slowly pour the juice into the spoon so that it runs down the side of the glass & sits on top of the syrup
3. add the champagne using the same method above (leave about a centimetre to the rim of the glass)
4. add ice & a slice of pear. stir before drinking
Disclosure: I was sent the champagne cocktail gift set by Rose & Grey as part of their bloggers style challenge.