It’s elderflower season again! If you’re familiar with this blog, you probably already know how much I love these dainty edible and medicinal flowers. Every year, I spend a few days deciding how I am going to use them before I go up the mountain to harvest them. Elderflowers don’t last long once plucked from the tree, so it’s best to be prepared.
Here are some of my very favorite ways to use fresh elderflowers when you’re lucky enough to have a local supply:
- Tanya from the Lovely Greens blog developed a beautiful recipe for Elderflower & Vanilla Jelly. It is a great combination and could be used on so many different things – from simply spreading on muffins or cornbread to putting in between cake layers. Would also make a great gift!
- Of course, there’s the ever-popular elderflower cordial that seems to be the most famous use of these fresh flowers. There are tons of recipes available out there, but I like the way Mary Berry makes it, so that’s what I’m suggesting here. I left out the campden tablets, however.
- One of my favorite, favorite things to do with elderflowers? The last time I made a cordial, I didn’t just discard all those syrup-soaked flowers. I put them, as well as the syrupy lemon slices, into a food dehydrator until they were completely dry and crisp. What does that get you? Amazing candied elderflowers that you can use for decorating cakes and pastries. They’re sweet, crunchy, and a perfect addition to elderflower desserts (or really almost any sweet treat that needs a little decoration). You also get elderflower-y dried lemon slices out of the deal. I put these in a glass jar and throw them in with my tea in the fall and winter as an added immune booster. Score!
- This year, I got excited about using elderflowers for skin care, not just baking applications. It turns out that the elder plant has many great properties for your skin. This includes being anti-inflammatory, softening, and supposedly even wrinkle-fighting. Try Mother Earth Living’s recipe for this homemade elderflower skin toner, which also includes rose and chamomile. I subbed in a few fresh umbels instead of using dried flowers.
- For a brilliant plated dessert to impress your guests, check out this River Cottage recipe for Elderflower Panna Cotta. A great way to use fresh flowers is to infuse their flavor in cream, so making a panna cotta is a perfect fit here. They serve it with fresh strawberries and brown butter crumble. Genius.
- Need something really easy and perfect for the summer heat? Make elderflower ice cubes. Use them to make mixed drinks, in your elderflower cordial, iced tea… the list goes on.
- Make an elderflower sugar. I’m always a fan of mashing fresh herbs and flowers into sugar. It helps to bring out the essential oils and impart the delicate flavors into your treats. Simply pluck the flowers off a few umbels and mix thoroughly with the amount of sugar you’re going to need in your recipe. Use your hands, a mortar and pestle, or your stand mixer. To make a bigger batch that you can have on hand for later on, stick a few heads into a quart jar filled with sugar and allow to sit for a few days, shaking it at least once a day to mix. Remove flowers. Your sugar is now ready to use, although you may want to consider dehydrating it if the flowers gave off a lot of moisture and left your sugar heavy.
- One of my favorite food bloggers of all time, Linda Lomelino of Call Me Cupcake, makes this stunning Strawberry Elderflower Cake.
- As Hank Shaw would argue, “frying the flowers captures their sweet aroma and delicate flavor better than most anything else”. So, why not try his killer recipe for Elderflower Fritters? I can’t imagine anything more delightful.
- Another one of my very favorite – and most useful – ways to use fresh elderflowers is to preserve their flavor in alcohol. In particular, I like to make an Elderflower Bourbon. Fill a clean quart jar up with fresh umbels and pour bourbon over them until completely covered. Allow to sit in a cool, dark place for several months. Give them a good shake every few days and taste-test here and there. When the flavor is to your liking, strain out the flowers. Now you have a delicious elderflower extract that will impart it’s flavor into whatever you like – whipped cream, buttercream, cake batter, you name it! Of course, you can also make elderflower cocktails. A simple whisky ginger made with elderflower bourbon is an awesome twist on a classic.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoy these recipes as much I do. They have truly been hand-picked to find the best of the best.
Now, I specifically chose recipes that incorporate ways to use fresh elderflowers when they are in season. You can always freeze whole umbels or dry the flowers in a dehydrator for future use in one thousand other applications.