|Flowers: Blue (Mexican) Elderberry|
Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea
Many gardeners know that Elderberries make delicious jellies, syrups and baked goods (see August 2012 postings for more on picking, cleaning and using Elderberries). But you may not know that the flowers of the Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea) can be used to produce some special summer treats. In our climate, Elderberries bloom off and on throughout the summer. If you already have enough berries, this might be the perfect time to create a little Elderflower magic.
|Flowering cluster: Blue (Mexican) elderberry|
Pick flowers on a warm, sunny morning. Choose only flowers that are fully open – they should smell like spiced honey. We find it’s easiest to pick flowers by cutting off entire bunches of flowers into a bowl. You can then remove the stems and any leaves in the kitchen. It’s best to prepare the flowers as soon as possible after picking. Older flowers lose their unique flavor.
One of the easiest ways to prepare Elderflowers is as an herbal tea (infusion/tissane). You can use the flowers fresh, or dry them for later use. For drying, pick and prepare Elderflowers as above. Lay them out on a clean paper on a cookie sheet in a warm dry place. They will dry in a day or so. Store in a tightly sealed jar – we like old-fashioned glass ones. Use within a year (like all herbal teas, they lose their flavor with time).
1-2 Tbsp prepared fresh flowers (1-2 medium-size flower heads (umbels) or
1 heaping tsp dried elderflowers
6 oz boiling water
Pour water over prepared flowers in a non-metal cup, pot or bowl. Cover. Let steep 2-3 minutes. Strain out flowers. Sweeten if desired. Enjoy!
Elderflower Sun Tea
3-4 Tbsp. fresh flowers per 8 oz of water (1 cup flowers/quart or liter of water)
Tap or bottled water
English-style Elderflower Cordial: 1 (non-alcoholic; used for beverages)
2 cups (moderately packed) washed fresh elderflowers
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 cups sugar
English-style Elderflower Cordial: 2 (non-alcoholic; used for beverages)
1 ½ cup sugar
1 lemon (sliced thinly)
1 orange or lime (sliced thinly)
1 ½ cup water
6-8 cups elderflowers
Elderflowers can also be used to make a light, sweet jelly. We usually use added pectin to ensure that the jelly sets properly. If you prefer a recipe without pectin, there are good recipes available on-line.
Elderflower Jelly (using dry powdered pectin)
5 cups elderflower ‘infusion’ (see below for preparation)
1 package Sure-Gel dry pectin
2 Tbsp lemon juice (strained)
1 Tbsp butter or margarine (if desired to decreasing foaming)
6 cups sugar
Turn off the heat. Skim off foam with a spoon. Ladle jelly into hot, sterilized canning jars; seal with 2-part canning lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes (up to 2000 ft elevation); for higher elevations add minutes to the processing time as outlined in http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/reference/adjust.aspx
Elderflower Jelly (using Certo liquid pectin)
2 cups flower infusion (steep 2+ cups moderately packed flowers in 2 cups boiling water at least 30 minutes; strain out the flowers)
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups sugar
3 oz of liquid pectin (this will be 1/2 box of liquid Certo)
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil you can't stir down. Add pectin and boil 2 minutes. Ladle into hot sterile jars. Process as above.