The sweet smelling flower of the elder tree is of a delicate summer scent. The flowers are known for their high antioxidant content and Vitamin C which is great for boosting your immune system. For this reason elderflower is known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. The dried flowers can also be added to your hot bath tub water in a muslin bag tied shut or be used to wash ones face and that it has a toning effect for the skin?
Two fun ways to preserve elderflowers are to make a sweet summery cordial (syrup) and another is to making a sparkling wine.
Honey Elderflower Cordial
Sweet, seasonal elderflower cordial made with honey. This is very simple to make, simply mixing, stirring, and letting it steep for a few days before storing.
15 heads elderflower (about a cup of blossoms)
2 organic lemons, sliced
500 ml honey (roughly 2 cups)
750 ml water (roughly 3 1/4 cups)
- Remove the blossoms from the elderflower heads, discarding as much stem as possible, and place them into a large bowl. Add the lemons.
- Heat the water in a saucepan or kettle until just simmering, but not boiling. Pour the hot water over the elderflower mixture. Set aside to cool to 96 degrees fahrenheit. Add honey and use a wooden spoon to stir until the honey dissolves fully.
- Place a newly woven cloth or tea towel over the bowl and set in a cool, dark place. Let it steep for 2-3 days, checking after the second day. If you'd like it to be stronger, leave until day three.
- Once the cordial is finished steeping, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve carefully mashing lemon slices to release their juices too and pour into sterilized jars or bottles. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze for longer storage.
Elderflower Sparkling Wine
When spring is here and you can smell the elderflowers in all of their glory lining the Santa Barbara Trails with their white blossoms I can’t resist making this floral sparkling wine. Serve chilled for a unique and refreshing drink during the heat of summer or fall for a special occasion.
Makes one gallon
9 to 10 large (6 inches or so diameter) elderflowers (or double that of smaller elderflower clusters)
4 cups hot filtered water cooled between 96 and 104 degrees fahrenheit
12 cups cold filtered water
1 ⅓ cups raw unfiltered honey (one lb honey or 1 lb sugar)
2 large lemons - juice and rind
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Gather your elderflowers and the rest of your ingredients.
- Do not wash the elderflowers. It is their natural yeasts that will cause fermentation. Just shake off any insects and remove the thick stalk (I like to pick them in the morning, let them sit out on the counter for a couple of hours, then shake off any insects and remove the stalks of the flowers).
- Place the honey or sugar in a large vessel and pour in the 4 cups of 96 degree fahrenheit filtered water. Stir until the honey has completely dissolved.
- Add the12 cup of cold water. Stir in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and the elderflowers.
- Cover with a clean cloth and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 48 hours, stirring vigorously in a circular motion at least twice a day. By the end of these two days, you should see signs of fermentation: the top of the liquid in the large vessel will have bubbles, especially when you stir it.
- Pour the fermenting elderflower sparkling wine through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the flowers and lemon rind. Use a funnel to help transfer the brew into clean plastic soda-type bottles with screw tops or beer bottles with flip tops. Do not use corked wine bottles because elderflower sparkling wine is capable of popping out the corks. Leave an inch of headspace between the surface of the liquid and the rims of the bottles. Secure the tops.
- Let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight for a week, “burping” (open briefly) the bottles at least once a day. After letting the sparkling wine sit for one week at room temperature, move them to the refrigerator, but keep “burping” the bottles daily for another week.
- After two weeks from bottling has passed enjoy, or keep in the refrigerator for several months. The finished drink should be slightly sweet and fizzy and as it ages it gets even better! Yum! I’ve waited up to 6 to 8 months to enjoy before and have had great results.