Elderflower has a near mythical status in Sweden. Blooming in June, it dots the midsummer nights with a dusky light. Way back, women would make sacrifices to the bushes in an attempt to woo “hyllekvinnan” an elderflower godess of fertility. Most everything about the Swedish summer is centered around fertility. Here’s a great snaps to get it going.
10 large bunches elderflower
10 cm slice of lemon peel
2 tbsp brown sugar
35 cl vodka (Brännvin special, with a softer taste and slightly lower alcohol content is ideal, but near impossible to get a hold of abroad. Absolut or Smirnoff are acceptable.)
Some kind of sealed glass jar
Do not rinse the flowers, but pick the large bunches apart with your fingers to remove insects and leaves, making sure you put only flowers in your jar. Add the lemon peel and sugar, followed by the vodka. Stir, seal, and let it rest somewhere dark in room temperature for three days. Then filter the mixture through a siv or cheese cloth, gently crushing the contents to extract the flavour. Pour it into a glass bottle, but don’t fill it entirely, as the best place to store it is the freezer. Serve freezing.
Elderflower is great for many things, and often overlooked (at least in Belgium where tons of it grows in abandoned places). You can make the world’s best cordial from it, sorbet, or pick the berries to make fake capers (although my experience with making fake capers is to just let this one be). You get the most aromatic and floral notes from the first flowers of the early season. Look for it at the sunny fringes of the forest, in the bushel along train tracks, or in hedgerows between fields.