The Flower of our Labors

elderflowers drying

This year we’ve been going through the liquor at an astonishing rate.

Really, it’s mostly been me. Beth being a lightweight, and having declared her first taste of gin “nasty,” has not contributed evenly. But to each their strengths. 😂

Honestly, though, I’ve not been drinking much of the alcohol we’ve run through. I mix a drink, take a sip, dump the rest. Then I alter the proportions, mix another drink, sip, dump. It’s not gone down the drain because I’m nervous about what all that alcohol, a disinfectant, might do to our new septic system. So I have a large Mason jar of cocktail remnants. I guess I’ll be offering a libation to the gods of the lawn sometime soon.

All this drinking (or wasting) of alcohol has a backstory. We’ve only been in the elderberry business for a few years. But from early on, when selling at markets, I occasionally met customers who would equate our product with “St Germain.”

Turns out St. Germain is a french elderflower liqueur. Who knew? Apparently those on the cocktail circuit.

I learned to clarify, “no not elderflower. We are selling elderberry syrup, made from the berries.” Same plant, different part of the life cycle. As more and more customers started mentioning elderflower in one form or another (St. Germain was certainly the most common, but others mentioned having elderflower flavoring added to their coffees, or used in desserts), I became more intrigued. I’d only tasted elderflower as an herbal tea, but I wondered about these other uses.

Bottle of elderflower syrup on our deckIf people wanted elderflower, we certainly had a lot of elderflower. I made a commitment to harvest and dry our elderflower and experiment with it in a product.

Thus was born Ohio Elderflower Syrup. We make a simple sugar syrup, infuse it with our elderflowers, and add a little lemon. The result is a light yellow (from the yellow pollen of the flowers) concentrate that tastes of….well it’s hard to describe. People have variously described the flavor of elderflower as floral, grassy, musky and honeyed. It’s a subtle, but distinct flavor. Usually I think it tastes predominantly honeyed; other times I think grassy is the more apt descriptor.

If you are someone who likes new flavors, or a fancy drink, you might want to give it a try. It needs to be diluted with water, tea, liquor, lemonade, champagne or what have you. I’ve done the hard work of figuring out the proportions that work (to my taste) in several dry and alcoholic drinks. (Hit reply and I’ll send them to you.)

The flavor (of elderflower, not gin) has really started to grow on me. I am fantasizing about having a party in the field next June when the elderflowers are blooming and serving a light and delicious elderflower punch.


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