Posted by Daniel Powers on 03-22-2023
Elderflower is a popular herb that’s often used in beverages for its delicious floral flavor profile.
Elderflower has been used for thousands of years for its various purported health benefits. It was a popular herb in ancient Europe where it was used to support the immune system.
Making this elderflower liqueur recipe is easy and delicious!
If you want to get started with making your own homemade elderflower liqueur, look no further. We have a collection of elderflower products right here at Starwest Botanicals!
Elderflowers are the blooms that grow on elder trees (also known as Sambucus nigra). This flower typically blooms in late spring or early summer.
Elderflowers have a beautiful white, lacy appearance. The entirety of the umbel (or flower cluster) of the elderflower is edible. It’s commonly used for tea, as a food, or as a garnish.
Elderflowers are rich in phenols, due to this, they have high levels of antioxidants.
Potential Health Benefits of Elderflower
There are many potential benefits of elderflowers. Below are the top health benefits of elderflowers.
Antioxidants – Elderflowers are brimming with antioxidants. This is thought to be due to the high phenol content in elderflowers. Antioxidants are thought to be beneficial for health due to their ability to neutralize free radical damage
May Provide Blood Sugar Support – Early-stage lab studies have shown that elderflowers may benefit healthy blood sugar levels within the normal range. Maintaining stabilized blood sugar levels is associated with improved energy and mood.
May Have Diuretic Properties – Anecdotal findings note that elderflower may have a diuretic effect.
In addition to various health benefits, elder flowers also have an amazing fragrance and flavor.
Elderflower is well known for its distinctive flavor. It has soft, buttery, floral notes with undertones of pear and lychee.
Why Take As a Liqueur?
Herbal liqueurs were originally medicinal and have been used for centuries as medicines and tonics. The creation of herbal liqueurs is attributed to 13th-century Italian Monks and physicians.
Over time, they ceased being used as medicines and became popular as recreational drinks due to their alcohol content and excellent flavor.
From a practical perspective, alcohol does a fantastic job of preserving elderflowers’ wonderful flavor, which can quickly dissipate. It makes a great added ingredient to a cocktail or can be taken neat.
How To Make Elderflower Liqueur:
Elderflower liqueur is often made with fresh elderflowers, but can also be made at any time of the year with dried elderflowers.
- 315 grams of Organic Dried Elderflowers (or 20-30 fresh elderflowers with stems removed)
- 750ml of vodka (80 proof) or Everclear
- 1-3 slices of lemon (optional)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey (optional)
- Quart mason jar (or a narrow neck jar)
- Fine mesh sieve
- Cheese cloth (optional)
- Weight out dried, or fresh, elderflowers and place into a bottle or mason jar
- Pour alcohol over the elderflowers (if using dried elderflowers, shake well to combine).
- (OPTIONAL) Add lemon slices on the top of elderflowers (to keep elderflowers submerged)
- Put lid on jar and place in a cool, dark place.
- Let it infuse for 2-4 weeks. The longer you steep the elderflowers, the darker the liqueur will get.
- When infusing, periodically check to see if the elderflower blossoms are covered. If they are poking up out of the liquid, pour in more alcohol. They tend to turn brown (and oxidize) if exposed to the air.
- After 2-4 weeks, strain the elderflowers and lemon through a fine sieve. Strain a second time through a cheesecloth to remove fine particulates (like pollen). You can skip this second straining, but your liqueur may end up looking cloudy.
- (OPTIONAL) Add between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup honey, depending on how sweet you want it. Seal the jar again and shake well to combine.
- Put the jar back in the pantry, and shake it from time to time until the honey is completely dissolved. When it is, you are ready to drink it. It will last indefinitely.
Elderflower liqueur can darken in color as it ages. It will develop a deep amber color. Don’t be alarmed, this is a normal process.
Since the elderflowers are stabilized with alcohol in this recipe, this liqueur can be stored for quite a while, though it's so delicious that it might not last long.
If using freshly picked elderflowers, it's important to remove all of the stems from the flowers.
When using fresh elderflower blooms, make sure to pick them in the morning. They lose much of their beautiful scent and flavor when exposed to the afternoon sun.
How to Use Elderflower Liqueur?
You can substitute elderflower for any drink that normally requires St. Germain, a commercially available elderflower liqueur.
Elderflower liqueur is especially good ice cold on a hot summer afternoon, or neat during winter (when you want to remember the smells and tastes of summer). It goes well with gin as an elderflower martini.
There's nothing quite as delicious and satisfying as DIY elderflower liqueur, especially on a hot summer day.
This elderflower liqueur recipe is easy to make, making it a great herbal liqueur for new (or experienced) herbal enthusiasts.
Have you tried elderflower liqueur before? What's your favorite way to drink it?
Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He's the founder of The Botanical Institute, where he writes about the health benefits of herbs.