Whip up a homemade elderflower syrup with real or dried flowers, sugar and hot water. Elderflowers lend their sweet, floral aroma to drinks and desserts.
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Elderflower Syrup recipe
Cooking with flowers is so much fun. We all know our fruits and veggies, but flowers add a sweet, aromatic flavor to foods and drinks.
Elderflower is one of the most unique floral flavors. Blooming in the early summer, it has fresh, subtle notes of pear and lychee, all the while tasting like you’re smelling a flower.
Mixing this syrup in cocktails or drizzling it over pancakes and desserts is a great way to bring the aromatic flavor of elderflower season to your table.
Why you’ll love this recipe
You’ll love this recipe, for a few major reasons:
- The Elderflower flavor makes a sweet addition to drinks and desserts.
- It’s a great way to use up fresh flowers — and make them last even longer beyond late spring.
- If elderflowers aren’t in season or available near you, you can use dried elderflowers too.
- It also makes a great substitute for St. Germain liqueur.
This syrup is perfect for mixing into drinks on hot summer days. Serve it at parties or stir it into your iced tea for a delicious treat.
The best time to make this syrup is when elderberry flowers are blooming, but you can easily use dried flowers made from the elderflower bush.
Elderberries vs. elderflowers
Both the elderberry and the elderflower grow on the elder tree, called Sambucus nigra.
Elderberries are the black-colored berries that grow on the elder plant, whereas elderflowers are the white blooms with a delicate fragrance that bloom in late June and early July.
Both the berries and the flowers have culinary uses. Elderflowers are commonly used in liqueurs like St. Germain. You can use it to make all kinds of elderflower cocktails.
Elderberries are edible too — but not in their raw form. Elderberries must first be cooked. You can use them to make homemade elderberry syrup.
What is simple syrup?
Ever tried to stir pure sugar into a cold drink? You probably stirred for a long time. Sugar dissolves more easily when warmed, so a simple syrup is the answer to this age-old problem.
This mixture of sugar and water can be made in just a few minutes. It’s so easy, you’ll see why it’s called simple syrup!
Most syrups are made with granulated white sugar, but other types of sugar can be used. Try this brown sugar syrup or demerara syrup.
Once you’ve mastered classic simple syrup, there’s a whole world of flavor to explore. In addition to flowers, you can infuse herbs like rosemary or basil, spices like cinnamon or even veggies like rhubarb. You can even make syrups with fruit like blackberries.
It has many uses: You can use it to sweeten drinks, drizzle it over waffles or pour it over ice cream. Bakers even use it to moisten cake before decorating.
Tools & glassware
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:
- a large pot or saucepan
- a wooden spoon or spatula for making the syrup
- fine-mesh strainer for refining the syrup
It’s also a good idea to funnel it into a clean jar or glass bottles for storing the finished syrup in the fridge.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. Here’s what to grab at the grocery store:
Elderflowers: If fresh elderflowers are in season, use them for the best flavor. Otherwise, you can use dried elderflower tea.
Water: Filtered water or distilled water will give you the best, purest results, but tap water is totally fine.
Sugar: Granulated sugar is what I used in this syrup, but you can use either cane sugar or brown sugar instead. However, they will change the color of this yellow-colored syrup, so stick to granulated if you want a softer color.
Variations and substitutions
Once you have a bottle of elderflower syrup, you can try one of these variations on this recipe:
Elderflower mint syrup: Mint is a perfect match for elderflowers. Add fresh herbs into the mix when cooking the flowers. See this mint syrup recipe for more.
Lemon elderflower syrup: Elderflower is delicious with citrusy flavors. Steep the mixture with lemon slices or add 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice into the mix to add extra sweetness.
Sugar-free elderflower syrup: Stir in your favorite sugar substitute to make a sugar-free syrup.
How to make Elderflower Syrup
Here’s how to make this elderflower syrup recipe:
First, wash the flowers if using fresh. Measure out the elderflower blossoms.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the elderflowers and cold water to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. The liquid will reduce.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the tea mixture to yield a smooth, refined liquid. Strain again if any seeds or floral bits come through. Discard the spent elderflowers.
Measure the hot liquid and add an equal amount of sugar. (Alternatively, measure 1 cup of liquid and 1 cup of syrup.) Stir until dissolved.
Let cool completely, then funnel the elderflower syrup into a jar or bottle. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to one month.
Tips & tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
- Use white sugar to ensure a lighter color.
- Fresh flowers will provide a brighter floral fragrance, but dried flowers will work just as well.
- For a thicker syrup, use a 1:2 or 1:1.5 ratio of water to sugar.
How to use Elderflower Syrup
Elderflower syrup has so many great uses!
- Use it instead of plain simple syrup and skip St. Germain elderflower liqueur for a lighter version of this elderflower French 75.
- Use it to make an elderflower version of the old-fashioned cocktail.
- Try it in an elderflower gimlet. (This is my new favorite drink!)
- Stir it into homemade lemonade to make elderflower lemonade.
- Mix it with soda water to make an elderflower Italian soda.
- Shake it up into an elderflower gin cocktail.
- Drizzle it over ice cream, pancakes or waffles for a delicate floral addition.
While both are made from elderflowers, water and sugar, elderflower cordial typically contains citric acid as a preservative, whereas the syrup does not.
While elderberries and elderflowers both come from the same plant, the syrups made from these ingredients are quite different. Elderberry syrup is made from the berries of the elder plant (Sambucus nigra) and elderflower syrup is made from the flowers.
More elderflower recipes
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- 4 tablespoons dried elderflower
- 1½ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- If using fresh elderflowers, wash them and pat them dry.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the elderflowers and water to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. The liquid will reduce.
- Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the tea mixture to yield a smooth, refined liquid. Strain again if any seeds or floral bits come through. Discard the spent elderflowers.
- Measure the hot liquid and add an equal amount of sugar. (Alternatively, measure 1 cup of liquid and 1 cup of syrup.) Stir until dissolved.
- Let cool completely, then funnel the elderflower syrup into a jar or bottle. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to one month.
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