All over the hillside above our house, the elderberries are in glorious white blossom. The sweet smell of the flowers carries on the breeze, tantalizing. I had read that a syrup could be made from the blossoms.
Earlier this year, a friend gave me a copy of Susan Musgrave’s “A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World”. This book is more than a recipe book – it is a great read, full of interesting little stories and observations. Many of the recipes feature items which can be foraged from the coastal rainforest. Amongst these recipes was one that I particularly wanted to try right now – Elderflower Cordial. The recipe was quite simple, although I modified it a bit to fit the supplies that I had on hand. I added 2 cups of elderflower blossoms, with the stems removed, 4 cups of water, 4 cups of sugar, and 6 tablesppoons of ReaLemon juice to a pot, brought the mixture to a boil, then cooled it and strained out the flowers.
The syrup was devine! Two tablespoons of syrup in a glass of cool water created a refreshing drink that tasted both like grapefruit juice and the sweet fragrant smell of the flowers all at the same time. I was surprised how flavorful the cordial was – the scent of the flowers is quite subtle, and I expected the flavor to be much less powerful. We experimented with the cordial and found that it could be added to apple cider to make a very pleasant alcoholic beverage, or to lemonade to make an exotic summertime drink. Although I only made one trial batch this spring, I can see that I will be making a bunch next spring and canning the syrup for use throughout the year.