Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Elderflower & Rose Syrup


I have to admit I was the first to welcome the unseasonably warm weather that we’ve had. April was simply glorious. What didn’t occur to me was that one of the ingredients would be coming into flower somewhat earlier then I expected when we set the publication date. Last year it was June when the elderflowers were out and I had a nightmare with my photography as they finished in July!

The key recipe in the elderflower chapter is the Elderflower and Rose Syrup. I always associate this with the first delicious moments of getting the contract to be published! Having talked to Helen from Fuss Free Flavours in London it seems the flowers in the south are beginning to open and certainly in my area the elderflower is coming out about three weeks early this year. Yesterday I picked a few with the lovely Ren from Fabulicious Food, and about 1/3 of the flowers are out.

I decided to find out if other areas are having the same early flowers. I asked BakersBunny and it seems in Edinburgh they are not out yet. However in Brentford (TW8) according to Louise of using mainly spoons they are flowering and in bloom in Norfolk as Annie mentioned in a tweet to me earlier today. Stewart Ovenden also has a super recipe on his site and tells me that they have been out for two weeks now in Hampshire. Whilst I am not panicking about this early season making the first chapter difficult to follow.. ( obviously you can buy cordial) I thought that rather than sit on the recipe and shrug my shoulders in and it’s all beyond my control way, I’d release the Elderflower and Rose Syrup recipe now on the Blog. This way if you have bought Prepped or you are about to buy Prepped then you can gather your elderflowers in and set to on the first recipe.

The elderflower syrup links to all the recipe in the chapter.

So I am off out on my bike to gather in the flowers today and I hope that if you have bought Prepped or you are going to them you will find this recipe gets you Prepped! for the first chapter!

Let me know how you get on !



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.


• 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!

Linked Recipe

Broad Bean Salad with Elderflower and Ginger Salad Dressing


  1. I have just come back from walking the dog, and there are masses of elderflowers out here, so I plan to take a large bag and pair of scissors with me tomorrow! This recipe sounds delightful, would you recommend any particular roses? Are they all edible? Thanks Vanessa, I'm really looking forward to my copy of your book arriving at the end of the month. And Good Luck with your launches in Northampton and London. They should be fun! Jude x

  2. Ooh I'm so excited! Can't wait to see the whole book! We used to have an elderflower tree in front of my house when I was growing up but I don't know where my nearest one is now!

  3. I use a lot of rose water in my baking (and i love putting some on strawberries), so i love this idea of rosewater and elderflower syrup. My next recipe is going to be an elderflower cake. My problem is that I see stuff that I "think" is elderflower, but I am not 100% sure, and so I am afraid to use it. My husband doesn't trust my judgement at all LOL, and always gets worried when I point out little berries and stuff.
    This seems like an awesome thing to have in the larder.
    *kisses* HH
    p.s. "Ginger von Tease cocktail"? How fabulous! And the peaches sound amazing.

  4. genius! we have an abundance of Edlerflower and roses and I never know what to do with them, thanks for the recipe honey xx

  5. Oh, such a long time to wait until elderflowers are back again here!

  6. I've loved having the Elderflowers early this year, and therefore have been making a favourite Ekderflower and Rasberry jelly. I can't wait to pour over your recipes! Fab, fab, fab. xxx


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