For Halley, elderflowers signal the true beginning of spring. In the Marin Headlands, she gathered a basket of elderflowers and made the cordial to end all cordials. It's hard to explain the flavor - it tastes like spring - earthy, tangy and refreshing. I didn't know about cordial before but I've learned it's basically a flavored fermented simple syrup. You can make it with all sorts of different forage-ables but today elderflowers are in season. I am convinced I've been missing out on something incredible for way too long. I can't wait to start experimenting with this recipe.
The little cream colored flowers of Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, are definitely unique but don't get cocky. Make sure you are absolutely sure you're harvesting the right plant. Poison hemlock grows in the same areas and also has small white flowers.
20-25 Elderflower tops
1 quart water
2 cups turbinado sugar
1 tsp. citric acid
2-3 citrus fruits for juice and zest - lemons / oranges / grapefruit (we don't recommend limes)
Pluck flowers off the stems with your fingers. Remove as much of the stem as possible (it's a semi-toxic).
Boil the water, dissolve sugar into the water.
Add citric acid, zest and juice of two or three citrus fruits.
Pour the sugar water over the flower mixture and cover with a towel.
After 2-4 days, strain the liquid into a clean and dry mason jar, cover loosely and store in a cool dark place.
After 2-4 weeks, strain once more with almond milk cloth and store the fermented beverage in the fridge. The longer it sits, the more fizzy, fermented, deep and tasty it'll become.
ALT: If you're anxious to sip, stick it in the fridge earlier. It'll still be very enjoyable!