Homemade Elderflower liqueur makes the perfect easy summer cocktail and is a great way to preserve the harvest of Elderflowers. Keep reading for this simple but impressive herbal recipe.
Foraging For Elderflowers
The first step to making Elderflower Liqueur is to learn how to identify Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra) in the wild. It is June here in Tennessee and they are in full bloom! You will find them around creeks and roadsides. A lot of times they can be in hard to reach areas or too close to the road but with a little patience you’re bound to stumble upon the perfect tree to harvest from. However if you are more comfortable growing and harvesting your own Elderflowers then trees can be purchased from Strictly Medicinal Seeds or you can find cuttings from Etsy or perhaps a friend!
Below are some things to look for when identifying Elderflower:
- a stem will have pairs of opposite leaves with a single leaf at the tip
- oval and serrated shaped leaves
- 5-7 leaflets typically
- there is a chanel going down the stem
- flowers are small and shaped like 5-pointed stars
- flowers grow in flat clusters
- petals are rounded at the tips
- flowers are fragrant when opened
*Be aware of poisonous look alikes such as poison hemlock and how to distinguish the two from each other.
To wash or not to wash your Elderflowers?
Some of you will cringe at this but I do not wash my Elderflowers. If you wash the flower heads then you risk washing away all of it’s pollen and we want that precious pollen because they also hold medicinal benefits. Instead you can give it a little shake or set out on a towel for an hour to give all the little bugs a chance to scatter.
Benefits Of Elderflowers
Elderflowers if left on the tree will become Elderberries. Similarly they both have many wonderful medicinal properties. You can read more about the benefits of Elderberries and learn how to make elderberry syrup from this previous post. Elderberries are one of the most widely known and used herbs but Elderflowers deserve to get equal attention. Therefore, I’m really excited for you to learn more about Elderflowers.
- high in antioxidants
- modulates the immune system
- contains a diaphoretic action which can induce sweating to balance body temperature during sickness
- soothes inflamed skin
- when used topically studies show it protects the skin against uv damage
- supports the respiratory system
- helps with seasonal allergies
- antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties
- used frequently as an oral rinse
- studies show it effective against MRSA
How do you make an Elderflower Liqueur?
- Gather 8-10 Elderflower heads.
- Remove flowers from the stems and fill a quart sized mason jar 3/4 of the way full.
- Add 3-4 slices of lemon.
- Fill the jar to the top with Vodka.
- Cover and let sit for 4 weeks shaking frequently.
- After 4 weeks strain plant material from liquid and rebottle.
Tips For Making Elderflower Liqueur
The first step is to remove your fresh Elderflowers from the stems which are mildly toxic. If you get a little bit of stem into your jar don’t stress but try to fill it mostly with flowers. Put on some music and pour a cup of tea, this step might take a bit of time. If you have some extra helpers in your house this is a great job to put them to work at.
After you have your jar 3/4 of the way full of Elderflowers then place 3-4 slices of lemon on top. I’m using a quart size jar for this recipe. If you use a smaller jar then 1-2 lemon slices should work just fine. Next pour vodka in filling the jar to the top. Place a piece of parchment paper between the liqueur and the lid. I include this step in all my remedies to reduce any chemical exposure from mason jar lids.
Make sure to label and date your liqueur. After that, place the jar somewhere in your kitchen where you’ll remember to shake it frequently. I keep the windowsill above my sink lined with concoctions so they don’t get forgotten. After 4 weeks strain the Elderflowers and lemon from the vodka and rebottle. Add 1/4-1/2 cup honey according to how sweet you like it. Use in cocktail recipe of your choice and enjoy!