Sunday, July 19, 2015

Elderflower, Vanilla, and Lemon Syrup ~ and The Hugo Cocktail

Elderflower, Vanilla, and Lemon Syrup
Many years ago, as we cleared the property to build our house, I walked through our three acres, trying to identify plants that I wanted to save. Plants that I knew would bring a bounty of enjoyment for years to come. The property was scattered with several species of wild berries including blackberries, blueberries, black raspberries, and concord grapes. During my walk, I spied a little bush in one corner of the property, filled with sprays of lovely white flowers. I tagged it so it wouldn’t be destroyed, and then quite honestly forgot about it until a few years later. I thought it might be Elderberry, but wasn’t quite sure. That was, until I went to lunch with several girlfriends. One of my friends was quite knowledgeable about foraging, so I asked her about the Elderberry bush. She confirmed, what I had thought. Lucky me, I had an Elderberry Bush in my yard. Since then, I have been keeping it from being overgrown by wild grape vines, that seem to creep onto everything, trimming it back, and fertilizing it. 

Elderflower Syrup with sparkling water and raspberries 

Last year, after seeing the Internet inundated with recipes using these lovely blossoms, I decided to make a batch of syrup for myself. My bush was full of beautiful sprays of flowers, growing in compact bunches. The umbels are delicate and have a light creamy-pale yellow color. I picked about forty, and left some for the birds to enjoy. The fragrance is highly aromatic with a lemony-honey scent.
This syrup was such a hit with friends and family, I ventured out again this year to make another batch! I love this stuff! It’s great mixed with sparkling water, or poured over strawberries. It’s also lovely sprinkled over pound cake! And it was marvelous mixed with sparkling wine, a perfect summer-time drink! So, as long as my Elderflower bush is producing flowers…I see a lot of syrup in my future! 

Oh, one last thing, give the Hugo Cocktail a try…I’ll just say you’re welcome now!! Enjoy everyone! 

If you don’t have a bush, you could buy a bottle of St. Germains, or next spring go foraging!

Beautiful bush, with a highly aromatic lemony-honey scent 
Shake off any little bugs, and lightly wash the flowers
The syrup….
Mix the blossoms with the syrup…let rest, then bottle it
This drink is light, lovely and refreshing…enjoy!
Sit back, relax and enjoy a lovely glass of summer! 

You can read more about the Elderflower syrup here at Here is the recipe I used.

Elderflower, Vanilla, and Lemon Syrup

1kg/ 4½ cups granulated sugar
2 organic lemons, halved, plus a strip of peel
1 vanilla pod, seeds reserved
1 tbsp citric acid powder
about 40 fresh elderflowers, shaken free of bugs, lightly rinsed

1. Rinse the elderflowers under cold water to remove any dirt or small bugs. Be gentle.
2.  Fill a large pan with 2 litres/ 2.1 quarts water. Add the sugar, lemons, vanilla pod and citric acid powder, and bring slowly to the boil. Boil rapidly until the mixture has reduced by half, then remove from the heat.
3. Add the elderflowers to the pan and stir gently. Leave to cool completely, then pass through a sieve lined with muslin into another clean pan. Whisk in the vanilla seeds and store the cordial in sterilized bottles with a strip of peel and the vanilla pod added. To make a refreshing drink, use 1 part syrup to 5 parts iced water.

As I searched for recipes on-line, I came across this lovely sounding cocktail…YUM!

The Hugo Cocktail  
Fill a wine glass with sparkling wine or dry white wine. Pour in a dash of the elderflower syrup (to taste), add 1-2 ice cubes, stir and garnish with 2-3 strips of lemon peel and 3 mint leaves. 


  1. Kathy, that is so interesting. I never knew what those plants were but such a great idea. Have to check out the Hugo Cocktail, looks so refreshing.

  2. Elderflower are everywhere over here! I love the amazing aroma.

  3. Wishing we had an elderberry bush ... lovely.

  4. "Shaken free of bugs" Lol, not often you see that in a recipe! How fortunate to luck into a lot with fruit! I put in some elderberries (tiny elderberry "sticks") a few years ago and am waiting for them to get big enough to do something with. Now I am inspired!

  5. Oh they look yummy! What a lovely blog! Greetings from Italy! :)

  6. No elderflowers here, but I have St Germains! This sounds lively.

  7. You have such a lovely property, Kathy! Your photos of the bears today were really, really good. Bears (or cougars) coming onto the farm was always one of my mother's fears when they lived on 5 acres - she would be blackberry-picking in the far field and thinking to herself that if bears were attracted to the berries, she was awfully far from the house!

  8. How lucky your are to have your own Elderberry Bush. I remember when I was younger my aunt had one growing in her yard and she made us the most delicious cup of tea. I love your syrup recipe. I need to get my hands on some elder blossoms.