After much humming and hahing, Lemon Elderflower Syrup gets to be the first recipe posted to this blog – yay syrup!
Sadly, its selection has less to do with how wonderfully bright and summery it tastes (although it certainly does), or even how easy it is to make (a cinch), but rather that a friend gently reminded me that I wouldn’t get any practice in creating readable blog posts until I actually posted something. This all feels very unfair to Lemon Elderflower Syrup, as it completely deserves to be posted about in its own right.
Once a rather old-fashioned flavour, elderflower is experiencing a something of a revival. Elderflower cordials and gins are everywhere, and a lemon and elderflower wedding cake replaced the traditional fruit and marzipan confection at the recent Royal wedding.
I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in Devon, elderflowers are ubiquitous with early summer. I can remember watching my mum making elderflower champagne in a bucket under a tea towel – something I’ve always wanted to try myself. For the first time in my life there is an elder growing just outside the garden gate, and with the sun shining down in early June, I leapt at the opportunity to gather armfuls of foamy, fragrant blossom and get creative.
It’s important to wait for a couple of days of consistent sunshine before picking elderflowers. This allows the taste to develop – elderflowers tend to be very dusty, yeasty things – it’s this yeast that means they can be used in brewing. A word of warning for Hay Fever sufferers – you might find handling these flowers a little intense.
This syrup is both tart and sweet, with delicate layers of elderflower mingled in between. It works very well as a cordial, especially when served with ice cold sparkling water, but is equally delicious when drizzled over ice cream or sorbet, stirred into Greek yoghurt or fruit salad, or even used to give Prosecco a summery little lift.
It’s stronger and heavier than many cordials, so use just over half of what you would usually use, and be sure to give it a stir.
Elderflowers can collect their fair share of creepy crawlies. Some recipes will advise you to wash the blossoms before use, but this will cause the flowers to lose a lot of their flavour. Instead, place the heads upside down on kitchen roll for at least an hour before you intend to use them and marvel at all the things that clamber off them.
Recipe – makes roughly 700ml:
10 – 15 heads of elderflower (depending on their size – I used 14 mixed size heads for this recipe)
2 lemons, zest and juice
600g granulated sugar
1 tbsp citric acid
Place the water, sugar and citric acid into a saucepan and bring to a boil, being sure to stir as the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to boil for a minute, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
While the sugar syrup is cooling, snip the small flowers from the elderflowers into a bowl or a jug. You will need to pour this mixture later, so a measuring jug is handy. Add the zest and juice from your lemons. Once the syrup has cooled, pour it over the flowers and give everything a gentle stir.
This will now need to be covered and left in a cool dark place for 48 – 72 hours. Give it a stir each day. When ready, strain into a sterile bottle. The citric acid and the sheer amount of sugar mean that there is no reason why this can’t be kept in the fridge for up to a year. However, as this is the first time I’ve made this, I can’t swear to it. As such, please try and use this all up within three months!
Also, for full disclosure, I should mention that I used a 500ml bottle to store mine – the extra syrup was strained into a clean jam jar and is happily being spooned into or onto everything I make.
Here’s a downloadable PDF!