Suggestions for storing and using elderflower.
Fresh elderflower is extremely perishable and should be used soon after harvest.
It can be held for a day or two in the refrigerator, but the aroma disappears fast. Store the flower in a container with a loose covering that allows excessive moisture to escape.
For longer storage, elderflower should be dried. Elder flower does not freeze well.
Store dried elderflower in an air-tight container away from light and heat. For best flavor and aroma, use elderflower within about 1 year after harvest.
The chemical compounds that create elderflower’s delicately sweet floral aroma will fade in storage, but other beneficial chemicals may stay fairly stable for up to 2 years. (1)
Ideas for use
Elderflowers are fully edible and the blossoms remain nicely white even when heated.
The flowers can be folded into a light batter and fried into a sweet, fragrant fritter. A few blossoms can be sparingly scattered over a frosted cake or floated on a cup of iced or hot tea.
They can be steeped by themselves to make a caffeine-free golden yellow tea or included in tea blends.
The classic use of elderflowers is for making a cordial — a simple syrup of water and sugar that has been infused with elder flowers and lemon. The flowers leave their distinctive aroma and golden yellow pollen in the syrup.
This pale yellow cordial can be used in alcoholic mixed drinks, hot or iced tea, and cake frosting. It can be diluted with sparkling water to make a refreshing spritzer.
Weights and volumes
1 ounce by weight of dried elderflower measures a generous 1 cup.
1 ounce by weight of dried elderflower is equivalent to about 5 cups of fresh, de-stemmed flowers that have been gently packed.
(1) Kaack, K & Christensen, L.P. (2010). Phenolic Acids and Flavonoids in Tea Processed from Flowers of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Stored in Different Packing Materials. European Journal of Horticultural Science. 75. 214-220.