Elderflower Liqueur – An Adventure

In April, I learned that a strain of Elderberry trees are native to the United States, and grow across the country. In California where I live, they are a part of the natural landscape, amidst the sagebrush and the ubiquitious wild mustard that gleam on the rolling hills in the spring. I was so excited to learn this because I’d actually yearned to make Elderberry syrup, Elderberry wine, Elderflower tea…and I’ve actually had battered and fried fresh elderberry flowers (so yum!).

Photo of fresh elderflowers on a flat surface, giving the tiny bugs time to find a different place to be.
Fresh elderflower, letting the bugs fly away.

The flowers have a faint, sweet scent that lingers in the air. My husband Tom and I spent a day a couple weeks ago picking elderflower, but at the time I didn’t know what to do with it so I air dried it and it sits in a quart canning jar until I decide to use it. This Memorial Day weekend, we went out again and foraged, coming home with quite a few flowerets. This morning, taking care to not add thick stems or the just-budding berries, we stripped most of what we’d foraged yesterday, jarred it, added vodka and covered the flowers with a couple slender rounds of lemon fresh from our tree to keep the flowers submerged and prevent them from changing color. As you can see from the below, the flowers have started changing color; but from everything I’ve read that doesn’t affect the taste, just the color of the final product. What can I say? We were tired last night and didn’t take the time to process what we’d picked yesterday.

First jar of elderflower liqueur!

Now, today’s forage awaits me even as Tom sits at the kitchen table, patiently stripping the dainty flowers from the tiny stems. It’s fiddly work, but I find the pollen left on my fingers has a sweet scent and a lightly sweet taste, and I lose myself in the meditative process of it all.


I suppose I will make a tea out of the dried elderflower…but that will have to wait. The fresh flowers need processing.

May your weekend be one of surprise blessings and so much love.

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