In addition to bringing back a bundle of fresh elderberries from our recent trip to California, a few fragile sprays of pale ivory flowers managed to make the trip too.
I’m not sure if it’s normal for elderberry bushes to have both flowers and ripe berries at the same time, but the bush we plundered certainly did. I felt a bit guilty taking the two perfect sprays of pale yellow flowers too (knowing that their future as berries was cut short), but felt there were still plenty of yet-to-ripen berries left for the birds and the bears (and other foragers who might discover it) to justify such a sacrifice.
It’s not everyday I stumble across a spray of perfectly delicate elderflowers, so you can bet I was going to take advantage of it.
I stored the flowers in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight, then the next day dried them off, wrapped the stems in a paper towel, and put them in a paper bag along with my berry containers. I hoped that the paper bag would let the flowers breathe more than plastic and help them stay fresh long enough to make it home to Nashville.
Luckily, they weren’t quite as delicate as they let on, and were still in great shape upon my arrival home. Definitely worth the care and effort it took to get them here, if only for the four jars of pale golden syrup that resulted from it.
What do you do with elderberry syrup, you ask?
My favorite use for it (aside from a lovely floral addition to this jelly) is stirring a tablespoonful into a glass of cold club soda or ginger beer for a refreshing, non-alcoholic spritzer (though adding a dash of gin or vodka or even prosecco would certainly not be discouraged). Elderflower lemonade, anyone? That sounds downright delightful.
You could also drizzle it over yogurt or fresh fruit, or add a tablespoon into fresh whipped cream for a lovely hint of floral flavor.
Making the syrup is actually quite easy: far easier than jelly (trust me!) Again, as with the berries, the stems are toxic, so you want to remove as many of them as possible before steeping. A few small bits on the flowers are ok, but cut off as much as you can.
Once trimmed, the flowers are then steeped in warm sugar syrup along with lemon slices and a pinch of citric acid (you can also use lemon juice) until they have given their floral essence over to the syrup, about 3 to 5 days, or until the flowers start to turn brown.
Strain the finished syrup into an airtight jar or other container and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Or, for longer term storage, bring the syrup to a boil then divide among canning jars and process in a waterbath. Once sealed, they’ll keep for up to 1 year.
This homemade elderflower syrup is perfect for stirring into drinks or drizzling over fruit or yogurt!
- 1 1/2 cups elderflowers (from 2-3 large sprays)
- 1 organic lemon, sliced
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Rinse flowers, shaking them to remove any debris or bugs that might be hiding in them. Trim stems, getting as close to the base of the florets as possible (the stems are mildly toxic and, while a few won’t hurt, you definitely want to get rid of as much as possible).
- Place flowers in a bowl along with sliced lemon.
- In a saucepan, heat sugar and water together until simmering and sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in citric acid or lemon juice.
- Pour warm syrup over flowers. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days, until the flowers start to turn brown and the syrup takes on a pale yellow hue. Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve, discarding leftover flowers.
- At this point the syrup can be refrigerated in a jar or other airtight container for up to 1 month.
- For longer preservation, prepare a water bath canner and wash and sterilize canning jars. Heat the syrup in a saucepan until boiling, then pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process for 10 minutes. Properly sealed, the syrup will keep for up to 1 year (refrigerate after opening).
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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Bonus Printable Labels
This syrup is beautiful pale yellow in color, making it a perfect use for these clear labels. Download the file now and print yourself, either on clear label paper or the color of your choice, cut out shapes, and apply directly to the (canned and cooled) jars.
The rectangle labels are designed to perfectly fit these 3.75oz hex jars, but they’d also work on smooth-sided mason jars or lids as well. Front and back labels included with space to fill in the made/opened dates and batch number.
The downloadable PDF file contains 30 labels per page.
Hi! If you use dried flower, would it work? And how much would you need to use?
You may, however it might not be as flavorful as fresh. I haven’t tested it personally so I can’t say exactly as far as quantity.
Do you know if this would freeze in ice cube trays? I’ve no experience with canning to steralise. I want to use it to flavour buttercream if possible – be handy just to get z cube from the freezer.
Because of the high sugar content I don’t think this will freeze completely solid. You can try, and freezing would definitely allow it to be kept longer than in the fridge. If it doesn’t hold its shape then maybe use a freezer safe container or jar for storage?
I just made this recipe. The flavor is really great! But… The consistency is really watery. It is more like a very (very) sweet juice than a syrup. Of course, it is still nice mixed with fizzy water. I looked at several other recipes and they call for double the amount of sugar, than your recipe. That would logically make a more syrupy-syrup. I was just wondering if yours is also on the thin side and you prefer it that way or if I maybe didn’t boil it long enough? Any thoughts?
The consistency is that of a sugar syrup, which is perfect for mixing into drinks. If you want something thicker (more like maple or honey) you’d need to cook it down significantly more.
Just wanted to say that these are absolutely beautiful, ethereal photos.
Thank you!! It’s hard photographing clear things, lol.
I really need to figure out if i can get my hands on some elderflower in Australia! I love love elderflower syrup and i would love to make my own!
I bet you it grows there (it seems quite versatile), just a matter of finding a patch. If not, you can also used dried elderflowers, which would be much easier to buy online :)
You certainly can! Elderflower grows very well in Tasmania especially. There’s a farm down there that sells lovely elderflower products, such as (in my opinion) the world’s best elderflower cordial, elderflower sparkling, elderflower salad dressings/marinades etc. My favourite way of having elderflower syrup is actually as a hot tea with a few slices of ginger and fresh lemon juice. :) So good!
have wanted to delve into elderflower since I’d had to track it down as a cocktail ingredient, wondering all the while, “what the?…” so good excuse for more cocktails for research-development but also for trying in these other avenues as you suggest, so thank you for these and for the excuse for elderflower exploration!
Any excuse for more cocktails is a good one!
why do bring this recipe in october, elderflower is a springtime flower
I found these flowers in late August, actually. :) Wanted to post it now since it goes with the jelly recipe I posted last week. Feel free to save/bookmark it for next year!