SAFETY TIP: When using elderberries for food or health, use only ripe black fruit; the red berries of a related species are poisonous.
Makes 4 cups
I based this on an Italian limoncello recipe. I’ve used liters to measure the liquids because vodka usually is measured by the liter. If this measurement throws you, just substitute quart for liter and pint for half a liter. These measurements do not have to be exact.
• 12 ounces elderflowers, rinsed and cleaned
• 3 ounces fresh lemon balm leaves, rinsed
• Peel of three lemons (avoid the bitter white pith)
• ½ liter vodka
• 2 cups sugar syrup (use less if you want the final drink to be less sweet)
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup sugar
1. Stuff elder blossoms, lemon balm and lemon peel into a clean glass jar.
2. Pour vodka over herbs and press down so vodka covers everything. Let jar sit on countertop for 1 month. Shake it once a day; the vodka gradually will turn deep amber in color.
3. After a month, remove herbs and lemon peel. Squeeze them over a large bowl to remove the flavored vodka. Strain the vodka in the jar through a sieve into the same bowl. Thoroughly clean the jar, then return the flavored vodka to the jar.
4. Make sugar syrup: Bring water to a boil. Add sugar, return to boil and simmer until liquid is clear. Remove from heat and cool.
5. Add cooled sugar syrup to jar, cover, and let sit for another 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, pour liqueur into small, decorative bottles and seal. To serve, pour a portion into a small container and chill in the freezer until very cold. Serve in chilled cordial glasses.
Short on Time?
Purchase elderflower wine instead of making our Elderflower Liqueur.
• Elderflower wine by Wyldewood Cellars, $10.
Margie Gibson writes about food, culture, history and natural history. Previously, she worked at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, where she wrote about wildlife.
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Elderberries: Grow, Cook, Heal with Elder