Ever since I did a foraging course with physiotherapist and naturopath Maria Moch, I look forward to the elderflower season. The beautiful umbellifer white and yellow flowers can be found and foraged everywhere around parks from in June and July. There are many recipes using elderflowers, like making breads, pancakes, desserts, syrups, cordials, teas and cocktails. In this post however, I want to show you how to make elderflower flavoured vinegar and apple juice.
Elderflowers have been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries. They may support the immune system and are typically used to sooth common colds and flu, promote blood sugar balance and reduce inflammation. Due to its possible effects on blood sugar levels, food and drink containing elderflower should not be consumed if you’re taking medication for diabetes.
The stems and leaves of the elder tree are toxic to humans and should never be eaten. The flower buds are mildly toxic cannot not be eaten raw. They can however be used to infuse drinks and vinegars, adding the unique and delicate elderflower flavour.
The best time to pick the flowers is after a few dry and sunny days, either in the morning or late afternoon. Make sure the flowers are completely open, closed blossom is not going to give off any flavour. I usually take a pair of scissors to cut the flowering buds and carry them in a large canvas bag.
Caution: a number of trees and plants carry flowers that look similar to elderflowers, but should not be eaten or used for culinary purposes. Do not pick/forage or consume any wild flowers or plants if you are not 100% sure they are the correct ones. I recommend guided foraging tours to learn the ropes before you go out on the hunt for wild edible plants and flowers.
Ingredients and instructions:
Elderflower flavoured apple juice
- 500ml unfiltered apple juice – it is naturally cloudy
- 2 large sprigs of elderflowers
- 1 unwaxed organic lemon
- 350ml apple cider vinegar with mother
- 2–3 large sprigs of elderflowers
- Remove any insects from the elderflower buds. I usually give the sprigs a good shake. Do not wash the flowers, as this will wash away the flavour. Trim off and discard the green stems and set flower buds aside.
- For the flavoured apple juice: Using a vegetable peeler, cut off strips of lemon zest, then cut the lemon into 0.5 cm slices and place in a jug along with the flowers. Now fill the apple juice into the jug, cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to infuse for a few hours, even better overnight. Strain over a sift and enjoy on ice.
- For the vinegar : Carefully push the elderflowers into the bottle, then fill the bottle with apple cider vinegar, close tightly and leave in a dark place for two-three weeks. After two weeks strain through a sift or muslin cloth, return the vinegar to the bottle and use in salad dressing or for pickling vegetables.