Elderberry shrubs are a beautiful and bountiful part of the food forest, producing large quantities of flowers that eventually become large quantities of delicious berries…yum! No need to wait for this transformation to enjoy Elderberry shrubs, however, for the flowers make tasty treats as well…
For a refreshing batch of Elderflower sweet infusion you will need:
-enough Elderflowers to loosely fill a colander
-a large pot
-the juice and zest of 1 lemon
-sweetener of choice (I used a small amount of honey, although Elderflower infusions are delectable without the added sweetness as well)
-Water, enough to fill 1/3-1/2 of your large pot
-storage containers (I used a few bail top bottles, recycled jars, and water bottles)
Start by boiling water in your pot…how much water to boil depends on how much tea you’d like to make…
As you wait for the water to boil, pick off any leaves and thick stems from your flowers. Your flowers should look something like this once you’ve de-stemmed them. The foliage of Elderberry bushes is slightly toxic so you don’t want to mistakenly include leaves or large stems in your tea!
Enough to fill a colander should suffice. This will make a fairly large quantity of tea, if you’d like to make a few cups, a handful of flowers (and the appropriate amount of water) will do just fine. If you have a hard time recognizing the Elderberry bushes by their flowers alone, above is a representation of what the leaves look like…just remember not to add them to your tea!
After your water boils, remove the pot from the heat, add sweetener if desired and stir until fully dissolved. Next add the lemon juice and zest. Finally throw in your Elderflowers, cover the pot and let stand about 1 hour. I allowed mine to sit overnight for a stronger infusion.
Remove the flowers and strain if desired. I removed the larger pieces of flower buds and left the single flowers that fell off during infusion. This left me with gorgeous little buds floating around in my drink. Aesthetically pleasing, and perfectly harmless to drink. After removing the flowers pour your tea into bottles to store in the refrigerator or drink the same day.
You can have your tea warm or chill it in the refrigerator before enjoying for a refreshingly cool drink. I added a ginger-bug (natural soda starter) to my infusion and allowed it to ferment at room temperature for a few days, which resulted in a tasty, sour, probiotic beverage.
There are still a few Elderberry shrubs with plenty of flowers this time of year, so head on over to the food forest and pick yourself some ingredients for a healthy and beautiful tea!