Today was a beautiful day to harvest Elderflowers from local trees. Here is one of the simplest and tastiest ways to preserve this delight of the hedgerows and it keeps for as long as you like. This can be used instead of Elderflower syrup. To make a delicious drink, pour a small amount into a glass and top up with still or sparkling water.
Elderflower Honey can be made by filling a clean glass jar with freshly picked fragrant Elderflowers (do check as you are about to pick, some smell distinctly unpleasant 🙂 and then filling the jar again with organic runny honey.
Prod with a chopstick for a while, to release any trapped air then top up to the brim with more honey. Securely lid, label and leave to infuse for as long as you like in a kitchen cuboard or similar place.
After just an hour or so, you’ll have a deliciously fragranced honey suitable for deserts or just eating from the spoon as I do. But if you can bear to wait three days or a week, you’ll have something close to nectar. So simple, so tasty and so useful.
When you pick Elderflowers, gather them into a paper bag if possible, being careful to take the precious pollen home with you. Nip them cleanly from the tree as whole sprays of flowers. I use my thumbnails to do this usually or a small pair of kitchen scissors. When you get them home, lay them face down (stalks up) on a white surface for a while to allow bugs to climb out from the flowers. Here you can see some of today’s harvest drying breifly on my Willow rack. I tend to harvest some Elderflowers to dry completely for winter cold and flu remedies but most of my harvest is eaten freshly or turned into sweet treats and drinks. Elderflower honey is the perfect base for many of these recipes and is far more simple than making a sugar syrup. If you are vegan or just don’t want to use honey, you could infuse a vegetable syrup such as oat syrup or agave syrup in the same way. Honey has the added benefits of being a medicine in itself and keeps indefinately is stored well, so preseving herbs in honey is my logical choice. Be aware that honey may contain Botulism spores which can be lethal to children under one year of age (their immature immune systems are not equipt to fight Botulism).
I’m currently working on a vegetarian Elderflower Jelly recipe, using my infused honey. I’ll post the recipe soon for you to try out. If you want to be ready for it then set up a pot of Elderflower honey tomorrow, as above and keep your eyes open for Agar agar powder in Chinese grocers or for the organic option, visit Deshima Freshop (on Weteringschaanscircuit). My Handbook of Urbanherbology methods is almost complete and the final herb jelly recipe will be in there.