Eating the Trees in my Back Yard?? Elderberry and Grand Fir for dinner!

Who knew? We’ve lived on this property for 24 years, enjoyed the natural vegetation, but never knew how many things were edible!

In a recent cooking class with Mara Jernigan at Cook Culture, she showed how to use elderberry blossoms to make elderberry syrup that can be used to flavour drinks or desserts. We sampled it in a sparkling water and used it to flavour a saboyan. Here at home, I’ve just been enjoying a teaspoon of it in a glass of ice water. Its aroma is unbelievably aromatic and delicate and it tastes a little like honey.
I made a simple sugar syrup in a stock pot, then gathered 30 fully-opened flower heads and immersed them in the warm syrup with 2 cut-up organic lemons. I let it sit on my counter to infuse for 3 days, then strained the syrup. I have stored it in my frig. Apparently it will last for about 3 months.

One of three beautiful bushes in my yard.

Elderberry Blossoms

For maximum flavour, use fully-opened blossoms

Blossoms infusing in lemon sugar syrup

Infuse the blossoms in a warm lemon sugar syrup

To make the infusion:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 30 elderberry flower heads
  • 2 organic lemons, cut up
  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Cool slightly, then add the juice of the lemons and the remaining squeezed peels and the elderberry flower heads, head down in the syrup.
  3. Cover and let it infuse for 2 to 3 days. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

The syrup can also be used as a base for elderberry jelly. Letizia from Alla Madonna del Piatto, a beautiful B&B we were fortunate to stay at in Assisi, Italy shares a recipe here for the jelly. I will definitely make this to serve with an aged pecorino, something else we learned to appreciate during a cooking class at Letizia’s Agritourismo.

I was lucky enough to receive a gift certificate for another cooking class at Pots and Paraphernalia with Brock Windsor of the Stone Soup Inn. The crowning touch for his menu featuring locally sourced ingredients was a warm rhubarb compote with homemade ice cream, delicately flavoured with grand fir shoots. Who knew? They add a fresh tangy flavour and aroma to ice cream. Someday I’d like to try infusing honey with these shoots to serve with lemon on baked salmon. Maybe tomorrow.

Grand Fir shoots. Who knew they could flavour ice cream?

Have you used either of these “back yard” ingredients? I’d love to hear how you’ve incorporated them into your meals.


About Flavour and Savour

clean-eating recipes, mostly gluten-free, always delicious!
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