Recipe: elderflower cordial
It’s been a busy week of hosting an astrophysics retreat…
dinner and science!
setting the table at our house
welcoming my parents back to Boulder for the summer…
mom and dad in colorado
and keeping tabs on the wildfires along the front range as well as spot fires popping up in our local area.
our daily dose of lightning
Never a dull moment. Actually, a dull moment wouldn’t be so bad. Today’s recipe is a good “back to Earth” kind of recipe. Just what I need right now. Remember when my friend, Wendy, took me foraging? I picked a small batch of elderflowers because I love anything elderflower. Truth? When I go to IKEA, I like those little elderflower juice boxes. I’m guessing most of the elderflowers are gone now and in the process of becoming elderberries, but come spring next year – you must do this elderflower cordial, because it rocks multiple worlds.
There are some basic rules to foraging elderflowers. First off, don’t mistake poison hemlock for elderflowers, because that could end badly – and by badly, I mean death. Do a Google Image search on poison hemlock and learn how to identify both plants. Second, avoid bushes or shrubs that have been sprayed with chemicals. Third, only pick flowers that are fully open, but not past prime (i.e. brown). Fourth, don’t pick a bush clean because not only is that a jerk thing to do, but you will prevent the fruits from forming later. You can find some good information from the pros here on Wendy’s site and here on Hank Shaw’s site. We harvested from several different bushes.
my loot, about 25 stems
pluck pluck pluck
The recipe is pretty simple although the task of de-stemming the flower buds is a tedious pain in the hoohoo. We de-stem the flowers because the stems are toxic. A little stem won’t hurt you (so I’ve read), but you really want to remove as much as possible. The flowers come off with a gentle pull (I found the older the flower, the easier to remove), but there are a gazillion of these little white blossoms. Running a stem between my fingertips helped to remove a decent percentage of them, but the more stubborn ones required actually plucking. It’s worth the effort.
the blossoms, de-stemmed
sugar, water, lemon, and elderflowers
I had about 25 stems which yielded a cup and a half of flowers. That was enough to make a half batch of the recipe that Wendy emailed me. I got the sugar syrup started and then let the flowers steep for a few days while I scrounged around town for a bottle.
sugar and water
stir in the flowers
after 2 days
After the syrup has sat for 2-4 days, heat it up to a boil over the stove. Remove it from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. I think the acid is added to keep it from fermenting (according to Hank), especially if you don’t keep it cold. Strain out the blossoms with a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Put it in a bottle and keep it chilled.
bottle it up
The cordial has a delicate floral note that I am a little addicted to. It tastes like a spring garden to me, the aroma bringing me back to that sunny day when Wendy and I geeked out over plant talk and spotted elderflower bushes everywhere we went. I find it especially refreshing with seltzer water over ice, but it’s great in cocktails too.
cooling off with a little elderflower spritzer
from Wendy of Hunger and Thirst
3 cups stripped elderflowers
6 cups sugar
5 cups water
3 lemons, juice of
To strip the elderflowers gently pry them off the stems with your fingers. You want to minimize the amount of stem as much as possible because they are toxic. A little won’t hurt you, but don’t be a lazy bum – take the time and effort to strip the flowers from the stems. Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let boil for a few minutes then remove from heat. Add the flowers to the sugar syrup, cover. Let it infuse at least overnight, but up to 4 days. Bring the elderflower syrup back to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool. Strain out the flowers with a sieve or cheesecloth. Bottle. Keep refrigerated. Not sure how long it will last – at least a few weeks.