Steep elderflowers and sugar in vodka to make this delicious summer liqueur, reminiscent of an English garden
Have you ever wondered how to make elderflower vodka? It’s actually very simple. There are some expenisve ready-made liqueures available, but its so easy to make that the only real difficulty is remembering to find the time to go and pick fresh elderflowers.
Elderflower blooms can be found between the end of May and June, with the exact dates being very weather dependent; this year the elderflowers were coming into full bloom towards the end of May. This was a full month earlier than in 2010 when I made my cordial on Midsummer’s Day, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your favourite spots to see how the flowers are coming along.
As with all foraged foods, it’s best to pick from a sheltered area, away from sources of pollution like a busy road, but do make sure you have the necessary permissions to forage where required. Considerate foragers don’t strip the plant bare, but leave some for the next person. This isn’t really a problem with elderflowers, as the plant is normally groaning with flowers.
Elderflowers are best picked in the morning, when they are still fresh and fragrant before the heat of the sun has got onto the flowers . Don’t seal the blooms in a plastic bag, as they’ll sweat and turn brown and be unusable. Also, don’t pick the stalks, just snap off the flowerhead. Finally, do make sure you’re picking elderflowers and not cow-parsley; they do look very similar!
This barely counts as a recipe: just place the flowers in a large jar, add the sugar, lemon zest and vodka, and give it a shake. Then, as with making sloe gin, pop it into a dark cupboard and let it get on with it. Giving it a shake every now and then helps to dissolve the sugar. After a couple of months, strain it through a muslin cloth to remove the elderflowers; it then benefits from a further period to mature.
There are so many ways to enjoy elderflower vodka. Chilled on it’s own as a after dinner digestive, or as the base for a cocktail. How about white wine, chilled fizzy water and ice? Or come up with your own concoction.
English summer in a glass. This elderflower infused vodka is the perfect base for a summer cocktail
- 10 small elderflower heads
- 75 g sugar (according to taste)
- 1/2 lemon zest
- 1000 ml vodka
It is best to gather the elderflower first thing in the morning when it is still highly scented. Give each bloom a good shake to get rid of any insects.
Loosely pack the flowers into a wide mouthed jar until it is full, add the lemon zest and sugar. Top up with the vodka.
Tightly screw the lid on and give a good shake to dissolve the sugar. Leave in a dark place to infuse for 4 – 6 weeks until it is a pale yellow colour.
Strain through a muslin cloth into a clean bottle and leave to mature and mellow for 2 months – you can drink it straight away, but it is better left for a while. Dilute and add more sugar to your personal taste.
Nutritional information is per 25ml measure.
Once you’ve picked your elderflowers, don’t only make vodka. Home made cordial is equally simple, and it’s also a great flavouring for an easy no churn ice cream, and the flowers are delicious in a salad too!
Originally published June 2011, updated June 2017.