We were recently at a party where a British expat suddenly launched into a longing rhapsody over elderflower syrup. "Why," she asked, "do Americans not have this? In England elderflower syrup and soda and gin - the best summer drink ever!" She had looked everywhere for this syrup and come up dry.
We were very happy to tell her that it's easily available here - just look at your local big-box flatpack furniture retailer...
This syrup is made from elderberry bushes and their flowers - a very common bush in Europe and the UK but not so commonly seen in the United States. It has a wild fragrance and lightly tangy sweetness - it reminds us just slightly of honeysuckle too.
We first bought elderberry flower syrup on our very first visit to IKEA - you can find it in their gourmet food shop, right next to the lingonberry concentrate. We fell in love with its delicate floral taste and slight citrus overtones. Mixed with lots of soda water it makes a lovely drink in the summertime. Soda plus elderflower syrup - you don't need much else for a really lovely non-alcoholic fizzy drink. But we do have the recipe for the alcoholic version following shortly.
Here are a few more ideas for using elderberry flower syrup:
• Mix in with a gin fizz instead of orange blossom water.
• Flavor whipped cream with it.
• Poke holes in a freshly baked yellow cake and douse with syrup for a rich treat.
• Mix into lemonade
• Combine with unflavored gelatin and Champagne plus fruit for a homemade gelatin dessert.
Also, just a note: don't confuse the sweet, non-alcoholic syrup from elderberry plants with the actual alcoholic liqueur made from the same bush. We blogged about this lovely liquor recently: Trend Spotlight: St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
(Image: Faith Hopler)