Search Results for “elder flower”

June 19, 2012

Elder Flower Champagne -Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Sparkling Elder Flower Recipe

Elder Flower “Champagne”

Sparkling elder flower has a low alcohol content, it is delicious. It is easy to make and it is the only alcoholic drink that my wife Hanna makes an exception for.


  • 12 elder flower heads
  • 8l water
  • 2 lemon, grate the zest and juice
  • 60ml of cider vinegar
  • 5 x 250g packets of Fruisana fruit sugar or use 1.6 Kg of sugar

Sparkling Elder Flower Recipe


  1. Wash or shake the elder flower heads to remove any bugs that might by crawling on them
  2. Place the flowers in a plastic food bucket, add the vinegar, lemon juice and lemon zest
  3. Add the water a litre at a time stirring in some of the fruit sugar to dissolve.
  4. When all the water has been added, put a lid on the bucket and leave it for two or three days
  5. Strain the liquid through muslin cloth into sterilized bottles. You can use either glass bottles with screw caps or plastic bottles that previously had fizzy water or fizzy drinks.
  6. Leave in a cupboard for a few weeks. Check the bottles regularly and unscrew them slightly every now and again to ensure that there is not too much pressure building up in the bottles, other wise they might explode.

Bottles of sparkling elderflower

June 18, 2012

Pickled Elder Flower Buds – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Pickled Elder Flower Buds

Elder flowers open in succession, so even now while there are flowers in full bloom there are further flowers still to open. The flower heads when harvested at the green bud stage are delicious pickled, a bit like a substitute for capers.

Collecting the flower heads

Snap off unopened flower heads. Collect about 30 heads for a 1 litre jar. You can leave the stalks, they can be eaten too.

Boil up a litre of cider vinegar, or you can use a malt vinegar instead.

Elder flower buds in colander after washing

Wash the harvested flower heads and place them in a clip top storage jar.

Elder flower buds in clip lid jar

When the vinegar has boiled, pour it over the flower heads.

Pour the boiled vinegar into the jar containing the elder flower buds

Seal the jar and the allow the vinegar to cool.

The flower heads can be eaten as soon as the vinegar has cooled.

Pickled Elder Flower Buds

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 16, 2012

Respect Your Elders – Elderflower Cordial Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Elder flowers and foliage- cultivar selection

It’s wild. Its everywhere. Its elder flower –Sambucus nigra. In the month of June its flat flower heads whiten hedgerows and fields around Ireland. Outside my office window I can see the branches bob and sway with the breeze. Seedlings all too often appear in the garden, unwanted, in abundance. But I don’t mind, the elder flower is a handsome plant and it provides much pleasure, not only to look at, but for the taste buds too.

There are some really good garden varieties of the common elder. The dark leaved S. nigra ‘Black Beauty’ not only has dark seductive divided leaves but also bears beautiful pink flowers. Just like the wild one, it is vigorous and tough. If elders are pruned hard in the spring they re-grow with increased vigour and produce enlarged foliage, but flowers are absent. Dark leaved cultivars can be treated in this manner to produce excellent foliage plants. They provide interest to a herbaceous or mixed border. The finer leaved S. nigra ‘Black Lace’ is excellent when treated this way.

One of my favourite is the green cut leafed cultivar, S. nigra ‘Laciniata’. A beautiful textured plant with darker green foliage than the native species. The flowers are said to be bigger too, but I have been cutting our plants back each year. I moved one to a new position this Spring, this one I will leave to flower. Another with intriguing foliage is S. nigra ‘Marginata’, the leaves are edged with creamy white variegation. It produces flowers in the same way as the species.

The flowers will fade by mid-July and in the Autumn the dark purple berries hang in masses from the branches. Both the flowers and fruit can be made into a delicious cordial. The fruits can also be used for making wine and last year we used the fruits to make an autumn pudding, a recipe I got from an old book which also used sloes and blackberries. A closely related species is the North American S. canadensis. This flowers later in July and I have read that it can produce flowers over a longer period.We have one in a pot which we purchased as a small plant from Turku Botanical Gardens in Finland last summer. I plan on planting this in the garden in the next few days, the idea of being able to harvest elder flowers throughout the whole summer really appeals to me.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been cutting flower heads to make Elder Flower Cordial. if you have not tasted home made cordial, you are really missing out. Sweet and delicious, diluted with still or sparkling water, the taste of summer…

Elder flower cordial is very easy to make. Here is how!


  • 10 or 12 Bunches of cut flowers, freshly opened flowers are best.
  • 0.5 Kg (1lb) Fruisana fruit sugar
  • 3.0 L water (about 5.5 pint) of water
  • A lemon cut in four

Elder flowers and lemon


I use a  plastic food storage bucket

  1. Wash the elder flowers in cold water.
  2. Place the flower heads in the jar with the cut lemon
  3. Leave in a cool place for 48 hours so that the flavour of the elder infuses.
  4. In a saucepan heat the water and elder flowers, remove the lemon. (you can use the lemon separately to make lemonade)
  5. Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil.
  6. Strain the fluid through a muslin cloth and fill into sterilized bottles
  7. Store in a cool dark place.

To enjoy the cordial dilute with water (still or sparkling) about 1 part cordial to 10 water or to taste. It is also great when added as a dash to apple juice.

Elder flower- Sambucus nigra

June 13, 2011


by Ciaran Burke


Despite the less than summery weather over the last while I do feel that summer has indeed arrived. The reason, the ederflowers are in blossom. Sambucus nigra, common elder, is a native shrub/small tree to Ireland and all throughout the countryside its creamy white flat heads are to be seen. Apart from its medicinal uses of which there are many, the flowers and fruits are a great source of food and tastiness.


Elder is a relatively un-used plant in modern day Ireland, which is a shame. In recent years there has been a growing fondnes for elderflower cordial, which is delicious and very easy to make. On Friday evening I made a litre of cordial which will be ready to use in a few days time.  -To see previous blog on how to make elderflower cordial click on the link near the bottom of the page.

I love the clear fresh taste of elder flower and have been of the opinion that there must be more ways to capture its taste apart from making cordial. On Saturday we had elderflower pancakes which were delicious. I will post a blog on how to make them soon. But to enjoy the flavour of elderflowers every morning would be a treat, a great way to exercise the taste buds at the start of each day. So my mind turned to jam, not literally, but thinking of how I could capture the uniqueness of the elderflower flavour in a fruit spread, free of sugar. This resulted is two jams, Strawberry & Elderflower and Elderflower & Apple.


The first of the two jams I made was Strawberry and Elderflower which is very tasty, a great success. The sweetness of the strawberry seduces your tounge with sweetness then the elder flower tingles it. I made a small batch with strawberries purchased from the farmer’s market in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. But, I wanted more elderflower, and decided to try making a jam with apple. The result is fabulous, perhaps my favourite jam ever! So here are the two recipes. I like to make sugar free jams. Instead of adding sugar I use apple juice concentrate. Although it works out more expensive I do like to eat lots of jam, so it is healthier.

When making jams have clean jars ready. We use old jam jars, washed in hot soapy water then dried thoroughly. Place in a cool oven and heat to 100 degrees Celcius, about twenty minutes at his temperature should sufficiently sterize the jars.



800g of strawnerries with green parts removed, large fruits were cut into halves.

8 heads of elderflowers.

360 ml of apple fruit juice concentrate

2 apples, peeled and chopped

Juice of one lemon.


  1. Tie the flowerheads from the elder into some muslin.
  2. Cook chopped apple in the apple juice concentrate with the lemon juice and the elderflowers in the muslin bag until the apple pieces are soft.  (about 10-15 minutes) Keep the heat low after it has started to bubble.
  3. Add the strawberries and continue cooking at a low heat until the fruit is soft. (about 20 minutes). Stir to make sure fruit does not stick or jam burn
  4. Mash up some of the strawberries to make a pulp, leave soft entire fruit.
  5. Turn up the heat so that the jam really bubbles. Stir occassionally.
  6. When jam has reduced and when you move a wooden spoon across the base of the pot and you hear a good sizzle, then the jam is ready.
  7. Spoon the jam into the jars, be careful, the jam is very hot, wear oven gloves. Clean the outside of the jars to remove any jam that you have spilled, use a clean damp cloth.
  8. Place lids on immediatley.



We have just used the last of the jam we made last october and they have kept well using this method.

ELDERFLOWER AND APPLE JAM (SUGAR FREE)– Possibly the tastiest jam in the world!!!



1      1.1Kg peeled and cored dessert apples (the weight after peeling and coring). Chop into small pieces.

2      11 heads of elderflowers

3      2 x 360ml bottle of apple juice concentrate

4      juice of one lemon



1      Place the elderflowers in a muslin cloth and tie to make a bag.

2      Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook on a low heat until the apples are soft (15-20 Minutes). Make sure that the muslin cloth containing the elderflower is in the liquid.

3      Remove from the heat and using a hand blender, blend the apples until they are pulp.

4      Return to the cooker and cook on a higher heat. The jam will be ready in about 10 – 15 minutes.

5      Spoon into sterlized jars and cover jars with lids straight away.


Elderflower and apple jam is delicious on freash beread or toast. Also great with some yougurt too. Even if the summer weather does not live up to expectations, elderflower will always be a summer treat in June.

MAKE ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL (LINK) (from my other blog on


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 17, 2012

Green Elder Shoots – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Green Elder Shoots in brine

Green Elder Shoots in Brine

This is an old recipe, and an odd one. While elder flower coridals and elder flower ‘Champagne” are becoming more widely known, I bet not many people are trying out the new green shoots!

In spring and early summer the common elder, Sambucus nigra, produces very vigorous strong green shoots from the base of the plant and sometimes the green growths arise along older branches. These can be cut, peeled and after being soaked in salted water overnight they can be eaten raw or cooked. The most surprising thing is that they are very tasty.

Collecting the shoots

Cut the vigourous green growths in late spring. They can be a metre long or more, Do not collect any woody portions of the stems. If you try them and like them, it moght be an idea to have a couple of shrubs of Sambucus nigra that you grow especially for stems. S. nigra is an ideal plant for coppicing, that is hard pruning in late winter. By cutting the previous years growth to with in 10cm of the base in February each year strong vigorous shoots will be produced. Not all of these should be harvested, leave some to grow and produce food for the following year’s growth, much like on would treat asparagus.

Cut elder stems

Preparing the shoots

Remove the very soft tips and the leaves. Discard any portion of the stem that is becoming woody, either cut it or snap it away.

Use a sharp knife and remove all the skin from the stem. It peels away very easily.

Peeling the green elder stems with a sharp knife

When you have peeled the shoots cut them into 15cm lengths or what ever size suits. Lie the peeled shoots in a bowl, cover with water and add salt, a teaspoon in about 400ml should be enough and then add a squeeze of lemon. I find that the lemon helps preserve the colour.

Green elder shoots in salted water

Leave the stems over night. The following morning refresh the water, place the shoots in a sterilized jam jar with screw top lid. You can use less salt and add a squeeze of lemon juice to help preserve the shoots.

I am not sure how long the elder shoots will hold in this way, we are still experimenting!

Elder shoots on goats cheese toasts

A quick and tasty snack, easy to prepare.


  • Slices of brown bread
  • Clove of garlic
  • Kilmallock organic goats cheese (my preference but you can use cheddar or any cheese)
  • Dried oregano
  • Some green elder shoots in brine


  1. Toast the bread in a toaster, meanwhile peel the garlic clove and slice or grate cheese, enough to cover your bread slices, heat up the grill too!
  2. When bread has popped from the toaster rub the peeled garlic on one side of the bread.
  3. Place the cheese on the side rubbed with garlic, sprinkle with oregano and slice the elder shoots in half and place on top.
  4. Place bread under the grill and toast until the cheese has melted.
%d bloggers like this: