Elderflower & Rose Syrup
This pink, floral, slightly tart yet sweet liquid makes a superb gift. Yes, you can buy it, and if you’re reading this in the other ten months of the year when it’s out of season, by all means do. But promise yourself you’ll make the effort to create your own. A pretty bottle brought to a dinner party makes a gift that will be remembered. It also has the advantage of introducing an easy talking point – which is sometimes very useful indeed. This is a versatile little number that will take you places.
Makes 1.5 litres
Prep time 25 minutes
Cooking time 20–30 minutes
Suitable for freezing? Yes, but steep the flowers in hot water for 24 hours and freeze, then defrost and add the other ingredients.
30 pure-white elderflower heads
8 heads red/pink scented roses
2kg caster sugar
1 litre water
Juice and rind of 2 lemons
75g citric acid
1 Give the flowers a good shake to ensure there are no remaining insects hiding among the petals. Trim any stems and leaves. Remove the petals from the roses and discard the stems.
2 In a large pan, heat the sugar and water, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Allow this to cool, and when the water is ‘hand hot’, add the flowers and rose petals, lemon rind and juice and citric acid. Stir well, cover and leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
3 Strain the syrup either through muslin or an old clean cotton tea towel placed in a colander,
ensuring none of the bits get through. Decant into sterilised bottles and seal.
4 Keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
TIPS & USES
• Use only pure-white elderflowers. Brown ones will taint the flavour.
• Citric acid should be available from a local chemist or from brewing and winemaking
shops or online. In this recipe it does two things. Firstly, it acts as a natural preservative, and secondly its sourness counteracts sweetness, which in turn allows the elderflower – not the sugar – to be the first thing you taste.
• This syrup makes a perfect topping for vanilla ice cream, and I love to drizzle mine into plain buttered couscous. I also use this to drizzle it over lemon cake – delicious!