Summer Story by Elderflower
Elder (‘holunder’ in German) is a loved bushy tree which can be seen commonly all over Britain and most parts of central and southern Europe. I’ve never seen this tree before when I lived in Korea, but since I’d moved to London and now Austria, I see this tree everywhere, every year around early summer. Although until for some time I didn’t know how wonderful ingredients it is for summer cooking. The most well-known thing you can do with this very intensive but yet sweet scented elderflower is syrup for summer drinks. You can drink diluted with water, soda, wine or Prosecco. There is a special Austrian summer cocktail called ‘Kaiserspritzer’, a traditional variation of the Spritzer (means squirt or sprinkle) that adds elderflower syrup to the white wine and soda water.
Since the weather gets warmer and warmer in Austria, we go hike quite often and we can find this blossoming elderflower everywhere as it’s not fussy about soil type and grows anywhere where it gets enough light. When you read this post, the blossoms are over but don’t be disappointed and remember the spot where you found the tree. In autumn, you will get little black berries which are good for making jam/jelly in nice red wine colour. My mother in law’s special elder fruit jelly is one of my favourite and a must-have item for the breakfast. Every morning, I am saying ‘Holler! Holler!’ this is how I call this elder fruit jelly. I will show how to make this jelly in Autumn and share mama’s recipe if she allows me. Now, the syrup, it’s easy to make, just needs some patience on waiting. So keep this recipe for next early summer!
Before go on making, you need to harvest the flowers first! Here is a little tip for Harvesting from Jamie Oliver.
“Whatever you decide to make, the process of gathering the flower heads is the same. Choose a dry sunny day, sever the stalks carefully with scissors and keep the flowers upright so that pollen, the source of much of that unique flavour and fragrance, will not be lost. Place carefully in a bag and have a good pick through at home to remove any bugs rather than washing them. Trim as much stalk off as you can before use.”
This is actually very important process, so make sure you do it the right way.
Step by Step
A family recipe for making easy elderflower syrup, cooling down summer heats. It's delicious added to cold drinks, simply in the soda, white wine or prosecco or drizzled over yoghurt, sorbet in any desserts. Even you can use for cooking, what a great summer treat!
- 12-15 heads of elderflower
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- 1.5 kg caster sugar
- 4 tbsp citric acid
Place all heads of elderflower, sliced lemons and citric acid in a big bowl and pour 2 litres of boiled water.
Leave this for 2 days at least.
Filter out sludge in the fine sieve and take the liquid only.
Pour this liquid into a pot, add caster sugar and boil it until the sugar is melted.
When it’s cool down, store it in a glass bottle.
Keep the bottles in a cool, shady place.
Make Hollersaft (Elderflower Syrup Juice)
For 1 litre (4-6 glasses)
1-litre soda (sparkling mineral water)
6 sliced cucumber
6 sliced lemon
Make Kaiserspritzer (Kaiserspritzer is Austrian traditional summer drink)
For 1 glass (wine glass)
125 ml white wine
125ml sparkling mineral water
1 lemon slice
Behind the Kitchen
In Austria, you can get this citric acid (acid powder) in pharmacy (Apotheke) normally.
Tips for Being Green
+ If you picked too many elderflower heads, you can make some other dish such as fried elderflower which is very aromatic and could be a very special appetiser or snack for the summer afternoon. Just deep it in pancake dough and deep fry them quickly.
I also use this elderflower syrup (Hollerblütensyrup in Austrian-german) for cooking as well, for example, salad or sauce which you need some sugar. You can use this elderflower syrup instead, it will bring a nice aroma and upgrade common food special with few drops. It works very well with citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange. How about make a sober with this fruits and adding some syrup in it? Or make a colourful fruit salad will go well with barbeque? You can be creative with it!
Following this elderflower syrup, you can also make elderflower cordial which is faster to get if you can’t wait to share this with your friends and family or have a party tomorrow. Check the recipe of Jamie Olive here: How to make Elderflower Cordial
Check out more about other summer drinks which you can have in Austria: Taste of Austria