Making elderflower syrup at home is easy and you will get the best result – you only need 2 days and some elderflower blossoms. Growing up in Austria means growing up with elderflower syrup. Either store-bought or homemade, almost everybody has a bottle of elderflower syrup ready to use.
Mostly, people are using it to make a non-alcoholic beverage, adding some tap water or seltzer to make it a low-sugar soda.
When picking elderflower blossoms, ake sure to use blossoms that are fully opened and not browning.
Several elderflower heads (umbels).
I was surprised that this is not a thing in the US. Instead of carrying home hundreds of soda cans, we would buy 1 quart of fruit syrup (elderflower is my favorite) and simply add tap water or sparkling water to the syrup to thin it.
The syrup would last for months and is way healthier than the overly sweet sodas, which I will never get used to.
Browsing through the supermarket isles here in Boston made me realize that fruit syrups, especially elderflower cordial, may be a European thing. So, I was constantly on the lookout for an elderflower bush to make my own syrup. They are blooming in May and June (at least here in the Boston area).
Finally, I found one! Now my dreams of elderflower champagne, Hugo cocktails, and a simple low-sugar elderflower lemonade are reality. Oh, how did I miss these aromatic blossoms that taste like summer in a glass.
You can also use this syrup to drizzle over the fluffiest pancakes or delicious waffles, a fruity dutch baby, a berry pavlova or to dip Kaiserschmarrn in. It’s also great so sweeten a smoothie, a frozen yogurt, or to add it to homemade ice cream.
Recipe updated in June 2019, see recipe notes.
Homemade Elderflower Syrup
Making elderflower syrup at home is easy and you will get the best result. Make sure to use blossoms that are fully opened and not browning. They will make the best taste. The citric acid adds some zing and acts as a preservative to make the syrup keep longer. If you can’t get your hands on citric acid (see note for sources), you can omit it and simply add some lemon juice instead to balance the taste. Make sure to store the syrup in the fridge if it doesn’t contain any citric acid, otherwise a cool place is fine.
To serve, mix the elderflower syrup with tap water or sparkling water (1 part syrup + 7-8 parts water), and add some ice cubes or lemon slices if you like. My favorite drink is white wine mixed with some elderflower syrup and sparkling water, garnished with a lemon slice. It’s called “Kaiserspritzer” in Austria.
You can also use this syrup to drizzle over pancakes or waffles, a dutch baby, a berry pavlova or to dip pieces of Kaiserschmarrn in. It’s also great so sweeten a smoothie, a frozen yogurt, or to add it to homemade ice cream.
Recipe: Ursula | lilvienna.com
For 800 ml / 3.3 cups:
- 650 g/23 oz (about 3 cups) granulated sugar
- 430 ml/15.2 oz (1 3/4 cups) water
- 23 g/0.8 oz (about 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp) food-grade citric acid (see note, updated)
- 15 big elderflower heads (umbles), if using more, the more intense the flavor will be
- 1/2 to 1 organic lemon, cut into slices (optional)
For 1,8 liters / 7.5 cups:
- 1430 g/50.5 oz (about 6.5 cups) granulated sugar
- 946 ml/1 quart (4 cups) water
- 50 g/1.76 oz (about 3.5 tablespoons) food-grade citric acid (see note)
- 30 big elderflower heads (umbles), if using more, the more intense the flavor will be
- 1 organic lemon, cut into slices (optional)
- Remove any insects or debris from the elderflower blossoms. Do not wash them, as they will lose a lot of flavor.
- Combine sugar, water, and citric acid in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved (no need to boil). Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
- Trim the thick stems away from the elderflower heads and discard. Try to remove as much of the stems as you can.
- Add the blossoms and the lemon slices (if using) to a large glass jar or a big bowl.
- Pour the cool syrup into the jar/bowl with the elderflower blossoms. Make sure that the blossoms are immersed in the syrup. A small plate can help press them down. Cover the jar/bowl with a lid or a tea towel and let it steep at cool temperature (a cool room or the fridge) for 48 hours, stirring the syrup once daily.
- Strain the syrup through a fine-meshed sieve lined with a cheesecloth or a paper towel into a clean jar/bottle.
- Bottle the syrup – use tight screw tops. This syrup will usually keep for 1 year as is, stored in a dark, cool place (cellar/fridge). To make sure it keeps this long or even longer, after straining, you can boil the syrup for 5 minutes in a large pot before filling it into into bottles. Once opened, store the bottle in the fridge.
I use granulated food-grade citric acid (looks like granulated sugar). You can find food-grade citric acid at most supermarkets in the canning section. It is often located near the pectin and other canning supply. Sometimes it is available under the name of "sour salt" in the spice aisle. I got mine at a coop market from the bulk bins where they keep the spices.
I slightly reduced the amount of citric acid from 2 Tablespoons (25 g/ 0.88 oz) to 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons (23 g/0.8 oz). I don’t like dull tasting syrups so I tend to be generous with adding citric acid. The updated syrup recipe will meet the taste of most people while some may find the previous version a little sour.
Plus, I added the recipe for 1,8 liters/7.5 cups syrup and some notes on shelf life.
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Mark made the cordial:
Thanks so much for posting the cordial recipe. I really like the flavor! A couple ounces in a glass of soda water is a perfect summertime refreshment. I've given some to one of my best friends, who happens to manage a local pub. She made a cocktail with it. Delicious!"