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Elderflower Goodness

Do you remember the scene in the film Amelie that talks about her love of dipping her fingers into sacks of grain? If you've never seen it, you can watch a clip here. That's how I felt when I was working up these recipes. Because elderflowers. They are so beautiful and delicate!

I've been eyeing a couple elderflower trees (also called sambucus) around our condo complex, waiting for the flowers to bloom so I could do something fun with them. When they finally started to bloom this weekend, I quickly got to work figuring out exactly what I had on hand to make with them since there is a very short amount of time that the tree flowers. But before I get to the recipes, I'd like to tell you a bit about why I was so excited when I realized there were elder trees growing right in my "backyard".

The elderflower is apparently the oldest herb to be cultivated by man, and has ben used for thousands of years as a medicine. It has multiple health benefits because of it's antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is used for treating things like colds and flu, sinus infections, allergies, and even reducing blood sugar in diabetics.

The elder tree in my "backyard"

Some tips for gathering the flowers: Pick the flowers when it is sunny and dry. Make sure to leave a good amount of blossoms on each plant because if you remove all the flowers, you won’t have any elderberries later in the season to dry, tincture, or make into syrups or elixirs. Don't forget to look for and remove any bugs! And lastly, use only the flowers not the stems or leaves for the recipes below. It's a little time consuming to separate all the little flowers from the stems, but it's totally worth it!

And now onto the recipes!

The first recipe I tried was an elderflower infused vinegar. I wanted to make a savory vinegar to put on salads or drink on it's own to help ward off colds and things. I also threw in some herbs to help boost the healing properties. I just used what I had on hand, but you could certainly play around with this. I think some fresh thyme or some savory would be good added to this recipe too, but I didn't have any on hand.


Elderflower Vinegar

  • 2 cups elder flowers (around 10 "bunches" from the tree)

  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 1 spring onion, chopped

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • a few black peppercorns (to taste)

Place all ingredients in a glass jar and cover with the vinegar. Let infuse for at least 6 weeks in a dark, cool, and dry cupboard. Make sure to "burp" the infusion from time to time throughout the 6 weeks by removing the lid and putting it back on.


This vinegar has a long shelf life; when kept in a dark and cool place it will keep for at least a whole year, until there are new elder flowers for making another batch.

You can use the infusion for salad dressings (I think subbing out the balsamic vinegar for the infused vinegar in this recipe would be super yummy) or you could make an immunity-boosting drink with 2 tsp vinegar and 2 tsp honey in a mugful of boiling water.

Vinegar infusing

I've also felt inspired to make a cordial to mix with fizzy drinks, but have been wary of the amount of sugar used in most cordial recipes. I don't mind eating a little sugar from time to time, but 2 pounds of sugar in one recipe seems a bit much to me. So, when I read that you could use prunes or dates instead of sugar to make a fermented cordial, I was delighted! The lemon adds a nice zing and while this isn't your typical syrupy cordial, I think it still does the trick in any mixed drink you'd normally use a cordial in. This recipe also could not be easier to make - just put all the ingredients in a jar and let it sit. You'll be sipping on homemade cordial in no time!


Sugar-Free Sparkling Elderflower Cordial

  • 2 cups elder flowers

  • 6 prunes (or dates)

  • 1/2 lemon, sliced

  • 1L water

Place all ingredients into a large jar, cover tightly with a lid and leave for 2 – 5 days to ferment. You'll know the fermentation is ready when you see bubbles rising from the bottom of the jar. At that point, you can strain out the flowers, prunes and lemon and put the cordial in a swing-top bottle, or a glass container with a tightly closed lid to make sure the bubbles don't escape.


This can be stored in the fridge for up to one month, but I'm sure mine will be gone long before that.

Let me know if you decide to try either of these recipes! They are both really easy, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you made something new, fun and good for you!


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