The tiny, yellowish-white clusters carry an almost mythical status in the Nordic countries. Elderflower brings summer in a glass, whether you celebrate the florals in cocktails, frozen vodka, or lemonade. Or mix deliciously into tarts and trifles. The little delicate bobs are believed to bring in a sense of youthfulness, vigour, and restore inner strength. Here’s how to celebrate the florals…
Says mixologist, Tresind Mumbai, Mandar Kumthekar, “The elderflower brings in a unique, floral and sweet flavor to give a refreshing touch to both classic and modern drinks. Additionally, elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain, has gained popularity in recent years, favouring the presence of elderflower in cocktails. The delicate aroma, reminiscent of fresh flowers with a hint of citrus, enhances the overall taste of drinks, adding complexity and depth. A little goes a long way, as the flower has a unique and dominant taste.”
For Vineeth Krishnan, Beverage Manager, Koko, Mumbai “the fragrant, sweet, and somewhat musky aroma that introduces a delightful characteristic and scent to the cocktail or mocktail. Being inherently fragrant, the floral presence of this delicate flower elevates the zeal of the drink.” He crafts a special concoction, producing elderflower liqueurs in-house. “The flavour of the elderflower is can easily overpower other ingredients in a drink,” he says. “Keep in mind the balance – elderflower pairs well with citrus notes in lemon and grapefruit; apples, pears, and other botanicals including mint and cucumber. It complements gin, vodka, and sparkling wines very well.”
STORE IT RIGHT
Tresind Mumbai makes use of the Himalayan elderflower. “We wrap the fresh pick in a damp paper towel, place them in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. This helps to retain the moisture and keep the flowers fresh for a few days,” explains Mandar.
As the flower is expensive, often the cordial, or the dried version is used. Says head mixologist in Mumbai at Plural, Saahil Gangurde, “Elderflower brings in a uniquely fresh, fruity, and slightly floral touches – carrying a touch of subtle pear, lychee, and tropical nuances. Fresh elderflower is too expensive, hence we make use of the elderflower syrup that has a shelf life of 1.5 years.”
Says Bensan Varghese, Corporate Beverage Manager, Badmaash, Mumbai, “The preferred form of elderflower used in cocktails and mocktails is typically elderflower syrup or elderflower liqueur. These are concentrated extracts made from fresh elderflowers, capturing their delightful floral and sweet flavours. Refrigerate the cordials with a tightly sealed cap to retain its essence,” he advises. “Discard elderflowers if wilted, showing mould, foul odour, sliminess, or the presence of insects.
KEEP IN MIND
“Avoid using elderflower stems as they can be bitter and impart undesirable earthy notes. We want the freshness and fruity floral notes from the elderflower, which are primarily found in the flower-heads,” says Rahul Kamath – Beverage Head, Elephant & Co Pune & Goa. “Properly stored elderflower can last for 2-3 weeks in a fridge and 3-4 months in a freezer. If a pungent smell emerges, discard.”
“While the fresh flower can be used, it is often the syrup that is employed due to its ease of blending with other ingredients. Only the flowers and berries of the plant are edible, the stems and stalks are mildly toxic and have an unpleasant taste when raw. Elderflowers are usually ready around late May to mid-June. If the flowers are infused with anything, they should be stored in an airtight container in a dark, cool place,” explains Latesh Kotian – Beverage Director, Silly Mumbai. “Keep in mind that the combination product can cause a digestive system upset and sometimes an allergic skin rash. Elderflower is possibly unsafe when used in excessive amounts. Some parts of the elder tree contain a cyanide-producing chemical which can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Cooking removes this chemical.”
Shilpi Madan for DH Wknd