Panier of Plenty

Elderflower Cordial

Or sirop de sureau, made from the flower clusters of the sureau noir,
or Sambucus nigra. The shrubs (arbustes) have been flowering for most
of May, their perfume filling the air as we drive up the mountain road.
They love water and cling to the gullies – my harvest was from this
spring or source.

Sureau Noir

The harvest of flower heads

I am now macerating the second batch, using a French recipe and
testing the quantities. As well as being a refreshing drink, the
elderflowers have many healing properties and help cleanse toxins
from the system (has a diuretic affect, clears kidneys). Known as
the ‘flower of fairyland’ the elder ‘nigra’ is named for its ripe
blue-blackberries, which are harvested in autumn.

Flowers, lemon and sugar macerating


Sirop de Sureau

Flowers from 30-40 head clusters
300g sugar
2 large or 3 small lemons
200ml water (approximately)

Remove the flowers carefully, trying to avoid large bits of stalk.
Place in a bowl with the sugar and zest of lemons. Cut off the pith
and mix in the flesh of the lemons, diced. Leave overnight to macerate.
Add 20ml water and stir for 10 minutes over heat, without boiling.
Cool before decanting into a bottle, straining through muslin and
pressing the mix – sterilise the bottle in the oven.

Many recipes I found use citric acid, this one doesn’t, and also
used the lemons cut with the pith – I altered this to remove any
bitterness. The flowers oxidise a little and will also stain
fingers and nails slightly when pulling the flowers off the stalks.
They are best when they have just opened and are fresh.

I’m not sure how long the syrup will keep – so I sterilised the
bottle (used and old wine bottle and heated it in the oven) and
I am keeping it in the fridge. Compared to other recipes, this one
has much less sugar and little water (you can increase either).
The variety of lemons will also affect the taste. The sirop can
be used to flavour crepes; so far I have only tried it mixed
with water (a small quantity in a glass).

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This entry was published on May 26, 2012 at 10:56 am. It’s filed under Cuisine, Environment, Food, Forest, France, French Culture, Garden, La Vie Quotidienne, Landscape, Languedoc Roussillon, Life, Lifestyle, Mediterranean, Nature, Photography, Pyrénées, Recipes, Seasons, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “Elderflower Cordial

  1. The Elderflowers not only look beautiful but surely tast beautiful too. I love the technique you’re using to macerate those delicate buds and I’m sure this is a method you’ll be using many times over…

    • I wonder if you can find them in Australia in Spring? I have just visited your site, the photos are wonderful, I used to enjoy watching Heston. It’s a long time since we ate lamb as it’s expensive here, salivating thinking about it…

      • I’ve tried the elderflower presse in Tasmania at my (parents home) there are many beautiful farms nearby with an abundance of those lovely flowers. Thank you for visiting my blog (of course the pictures are) incomparable with your gorgeous vistas of France. Heston’s certainly been the hot ticket of late in Sydney.

      • I had no idea it grew in Tasmania, how wonderful to use a special press. I hope you are having another lovely meal today, bon appétit!

  2. I love elderflower water/cordial, how wonderful that you have suceeded to make it and what a beautiful flower it is in nature, thak you so much for sharing both the recipe and for its name in French!

    • Merci Claire, you’re welcome. I hope you can find sureau nearby! It’s easy, and if you don’t have muslin it is ‘mousseline’ and sold by the metre. It shrinks alot so 1/2m is a good size for straining. I left the second batch macerating for 24 hours and it was better (covered in cling film)…

  3. Pingback: Sur l’eau | Panier of Plenty

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