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.
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.
Sirop de Sureau
Flowers from 30-40 head clusters
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).