The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Last week, one of my goals driving home was to gather enough elderflowers to make something – a syrup, perhaps, or an infused vodka. The cream-colored clusters of flower heads were everywhere; it was only a matter of finding a shoulder wide enough to pull over without tumbling into a creek. The small tree is fond of damp areas, so you’ll often find them near rivers, lakes and streams. Needless to say, I followed every river road that I could.


The fragrance of elderflower is succulent, honey-rich, intensely sweet. It epitomizes the word floral. And those floral qualities are concentrated when you make this syrup. There is so much to do with them that I am committed to another trip out to the river roads and the waterways of the delta, if only to make Lottie + Doof’s gorgeous, delightful-looking elderflower fritters. And perhaps a panna cotta.


If you do decide to go on your own elderflower forage – they grow everywhere! – just make sure to know the tree you’re looking for. Apparently it’s easily confused with poisonous hemlock. Both plants grow near water, though the flowers of the hemlock are shocking white, unlike the soft, buttery color of the elderflower.

You can reduce the syrup further than is called for here to make a delicate, lovely addition to waffles, pancakes, ice cream or a fruity gelato. You can add the syrup to sparkling water or sparkling wine.


adapted from Homemade by Yvette van Boven

2 ounces elderflower blossoms, stems removed
1/2 cup sugar

Make sure to thoroughly pick through your flowers, removing all green stems. If you pick ripe, fully opened clusters of flowers, they will come away easily from the stem. Keep that in mind when hunting for them.

Combine the elderflowers with 4 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days. Or, leave out overnight at room temperature.

Strain the elderflower infusion through a fine mesh sieve into a non-reactive pot. Add the sugar. Bring to a gentle boil to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to thicken.

Ladle the syrup into sterilized jars. Store in the fridge for a month.

  • Kristin - I’ve been making elderflower syrup for the past few years from the trees that grow in my yard in Ireland. My favorite way to use it is in some Prosecco to make an elderflower Bellini – summer in a glass. I also made a syrup from the elderberries last autumn for the first time, which was lovely too. I love how versatile syrups are.ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought for Food - So fascinating! I don’t think I’ve ever seen elderflower and it is stunning!ReplyCancel

  • erin - gorgeous shots. and you’re a woman after my own heart. been wanting to do the same since forever. for now, i’ll have to sip on elderflower liqueur and get my fix that way.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn - Elderflower syrup will forever remind me of living in Ireland. At the right time of year, elderflowers blossoms are everywhere. Ancient Celtic legends link the elder tree with magic – it’s known as the ‘fairy tree.’ Which is only appropriate, since elderflower, in both looks and taste, is nothing if not enchanting – just look at your pictures for proof of that!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - Elderflower really speaks my language, I love its femininity and intoxicating floral aroma. My favorite is an elderflower infused cocktail. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - We always made elderflower syrup in Denmark, and I would love to make my own again here, but have not stumbled upon the flowers – yet.ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate - Pretty! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen elderflower before, and I’ve definitely never tasted it! I’ve been really into making infusions and sauces and syrups lately, so fun!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - Love this! You must share the cocktails you make with this magic syrup. Those fritters!!! Just wow to it all.ReplyCancel

  • Marissa | Pinch and Swirl - Beautiful. I love that you foraged them, makes the syrup sweeter. :)ReplyCancel

  • leela - i love eating flowers!ReplyCancel

  • Brianne - I found ONE elderflower tree last year, but fortunately it was in full bloom! I should go back and see how it looks now. My elderflower syrup is long gone.ReplyCancel

  • SG - Yes! I made this last year after Lottie + Doof’s fritter introduction and really enjoyed it – most often in a cocktail! I really like that last image!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - I’ve made elderflower syrup tons of times, it’s a favourite! I always add some lemon and sometimes even some slices of fresh ginger when the flowers soak.ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - I love the look of elderflowers but have never tried it as a syrup or anything! I always see elderflower liqueur in drinks but love the idea of making something similar.ReplyCancel

  • Laken - I love this so much. The idea of foraging gorgeous elderflowers and of having homemade syrup for summertime cocktails. Just lovely.ReplyCancel

  • autumn - so stunning! I am forever jealous of folks who find elderflowers in the wild. I am such a sucker for flowery tastes and elderflower is near the top of my list. Looking forward to seeing how you use this.ReplyCancel

  • Amrita - Oh, we have this Pimm’s cocktail recipe where we add elderflower syrup, a fat pinch of salt and drop in a few raspberries into the cup. Its like a cup of heaven in summer!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - This is so awesome. I’ve had it on my list to recreate a cocktail I had a few weeks ago at one of our favorite restaurants down here, it’s called the “King Collins” and it’s made with Hendrick’s Gin, elderflower syrup, the juice of one lemon, cucumber, and a splash of sparkling water. Try it! Seriously bomb.ReplyCancel

  • Beth {local milk} - Food for faeries! Fantastic. I so love florals in food… lavender, hibiscus, jasmine, honeysuckle… and now I must try elderflower!ReplyCancel

  • sarah - I’ve never tried elderflower {and have been day dreaming about it since finishing the chapter in Ripe}. I’m going to have to track some down! This looks lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Raav - Are these from the Red or Blue Elderberry? Do you know if flowers from either kind are useable for making syrups and infusions?ReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ Spinning Spoons - Can I ask where you looked for these? I’m in the Bay Area and still trying to get used to where everything is… I’d love to try this out!ReplyCancel

  • nicole franzen - Pretty! If I come across some in the markets I am def gonna try to make this :)ReplyCancel

  • Mixtapes and Mash - What a lovely summer drink and you’ve captured it so beautifully in your pictures. Looks so delicate! I loved drinking elderflower cordial as a little girl, I’d love to have it again.ReplyCancel

  • thecitygourmand - This is incredible! We don’t the climate or green spaces in Australia to be able to ‘forage’ for elderflowers. The closest thing we have is imported cordials and ricola lozenges…lame!ReplyCancel

  • Nikole - So awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Brigita - I love elderflower as a syrup, fritters, anything at all with that delicious smell! My mom has a neat trick for separating the flowers from the stems. She stores the clusters of flowers in a nylon bag for a day, then she simply shakes each stem and the flowers fall right off.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Can you tell me why I can’t use the flowers from the elderberry bush (blacklace)? It’s a red leafed variety of elderberry.
    Thanks for the reply.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - Hi Mary – Perhaps try a Google search?ReplyCancel

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