Tuesday 10 June 2014

Elderflower Syrup

Two years ago I had the idea I might like to make elderflower champagne, but common sense got the better of me, and last year I made elderflower syrup at this time of year when the elder trees were nicely flowering.

The substantial Elder Sambucus nigra in our back yard when we bought the house.
Elderflower syrup is easy peasy, and does not involve having to check the bottles every day.

10 - 15 elder flower heads
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
500 g sugar
500 ml water

  1. Strip the flowers off the stems and mix into the lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan on high heat, stirring until it goes clear and boils.
  3. Allow this simple syrup to boil rapidly for a minute then pour it over the elderflowers.
  4. Cover the elderflower mixture and set aside to infuse for several days.
  5. Strain the mixture through a jelly bag and bottle the resulting syrup. Keep in the refrigerator.
  6. To make into a refreshing drink, mix with fizzy water in whatever proportion is to your taste.
The drink is really a glorified traditional lemonade, but you can tell it's got elderflower in it. The flowers give it a floral fragrance and an extra citrusy note that is more orangey than the lemon. Of course, you need to collect your flowers from somewhere pollution free. I got mine from trees along the bief (millstream) in le Petit Pressigny. Choose heads with flowers that are freshly opened and have plenty of pollen.

The recipe makes just under a litre of syrup.
I had an interesting experience a few days after making this last year. I was wine tasting with a client at Chateau Gaudrelle and was really struck by how much their sparkling Vouvray Brut Millesimé 2011 reminded me of the elderflower syrup I'd just been making. After spending a few days with the aroma filling the kitchen and pantry, my brain immediately and automatically made the connection when I first put my nose in the glass of wine.


French Expression:  Au fur et à mesure = as it goes along / as and when. For instance, if you have a buffet, people can serve themselves au fur et à mesure. The expression indicates something happens slowly, progressively, gradually, evenly. A lot of the time it just means 'as'.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Please re-post or link to earlier next year....
all the Elders have finished flowering for this year....
about two weeks ago!!

"Keep in 'fridge...."
presumably to avoid elderflower ultrachampagne explosions...
and the cleaning of the sticky mess...
but, please tell me...
HOW ON EARTH HAVE YOU GOT ROOM IN YOUR 'FRIDGE? for all these things....
ours is always far to full of produce waiting to be used...
and we've got three 'fridges!!

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