Elderflower is a lovely fragrant syrup to add to your G&T or home cocktails. Homemade elderflower syrup is fuss-free and simple to make and the taste is sublime. Once you have made your own you won’t want to go back to commercial syrups. For some simple cocktails recipes with elderflower syrup click here. It also pairs beautifully with gooseberry gin. To find out how to make homemade gooseberry gin click here.
I’m going to teach you step by easy step how to make elderflower syrup at home.
There is nothing that lifts my spirits more than the sight on a sunny summer day of an elderflower hedge in full riotous flower. The creamy fluffy flower heads looking so pristine, just make me want to go out and pick a basketful and get creating in the kitchen.
Elderflowers have a sweet musky aroma that is so distinctive. They pop up as a botanical in a number of gins where they add a surprisingly exotic floral note for such modest little flowers.
Elderflower is common all over Europe and North America, flowering in early summer from the end of May to the middle of June. Their season is brief so get out there and pick!
Use fresh elderflowers if you can get them. But if you can’t you can buy dried online. The flavour is much more concentrated in the dried so go easy by using just a quarter of the quantity.
Luckily, I don’t have to go far to pick mine. I have a native elderflower bush as part of a hedge at the bottom of my garden. It is an easy shrub/tree to grow. All you need to do is cut it back hard when it gets too tall, you can cut it almost down to the ground, and it will repay you the following spring with an abundance of fresh growth and flowers. Every year I pick some elderflowers and leave some to grow into elderberries which I also use in the kitchen.
I also have a Sambucus Nigra ‘Black Lace’ as an ornamental shrub in my garden. With its dark, almost black, leaves and pink flowers, it is a striking plant to have in your garden. I am very tempted this year to see if I can make a pink elderflower syrup from the flowers.
How to Make Elderflower Syrup
Harvesting your Elderflowers
Pick your elderflowers on a dry day. Using a pair of kitchen scissors gently snip them off at the stalk, trying not to include any leaves and bag them up. Wash them gently under a running tap to remove all the little beasties lurking. But the flavour is in the pollen so don’t dowse them under a great deluge.
Tip: Try drying your own elderflowers. A week in an airing cupboard, or a warm dry place, on a cardboard tray to keep the air circulating should do it. The homemade dry ones are a lot lighter in colour and nicer than bought dried ones.
Making the Syrup
- 1/2 cup / 120ml by vol dried or 1 cup fresh elderflowers (about 4 flowerheads)
- 1 cup / 240ml water
- 1 to 2 cups / 240 to 480ml by vol of sugar
- A squirt of honey
- Gently heat the elderflowers, dried or fresh, and water together in a pan until the mixture is at simmering point. If using fresh place them flower head down so they are submerged in the water.
- Don’t let the mixture boil. Elderflowers have a delicate flavour and boiling will give them a stewed taste.
- When the mixture is warmed up take it off the heat.
- Leave to infuse and cool down for a couple of hours or overnight.
- First, strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the flowers.
- Next, strain the mixture through a clean muslin cloth in a sieve to remove some of the finer bits of elderflower.
- Finally, strain the liquid through a coffee filter. The resulting liquid will be coloured but clear of bits.
- Take the elderflower infused liquid and measure it.
- For every cup of liquid measure 1 to 2 cups of sugar, depending on how sweet your tooth is. Elderflowers are quite sweet so 2 cups maybe a little too much.
- Gently heat the liquid and sugar in a clean pan to dissolves the sugar crystals.
- Once the sugar crystals have dissolved decant the syrup into a sterilised bottle and keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
- Finally, make some fabulous cocktails! For fuss-free cocktail recipes that use elderflower syrup click here.