Wild Elderflower Soda

August 21, 2019 (Last Updated: August 26, 2019)

Here in Northern Utah, we have so many elder plants growing wild that it would be a shame not to utilize the powerful medicinal properties of the overlooked elderflower. Making wild elderflower soda requires a little time outdoors foraging, but connecting with nature can be the best part.

You’ll also be rewarded with a uniquely refreshing and probiotic-packed beverage to cool you down in the summer heat.

What Makes the Elderflower so Special?

Much like elderberries, the fruit they produce, elderflowers have powerful medicinal use due to their abundance in bioflavonoids, chlorogenic acids, and triterpenoids.

These components come together and deem the elderflower a powerful remedy for respiratory infections and ailments, flu, allergies, and they also have diuretic and laxative effects.

Consuming wild elderflower soda is a fantastic way the take advantage of these many benefits. You will also get a good dose of those beneficial probiotics.

Where to Harvest Elderflowers

The best way to get ahold of these special flowers is to get outdoors and find some, but it may take a little time treading through the brush, weeds, and tall grass to do so.

The Elder plant (Sambucus) is native to Central Europe and North America and grow wild in zones 3-8. If you live in the United States, you can easily find out which plant hardiness zone you live in here.

American elder identification
American Elder (Sambucus Canadensis)

The American Elder (Sambucus Canadensis) and the European Elder (Sambucus Nigra) are the most common. The American Elder grows to be about 10 feet tall, and the European Elder can get as tall as 20 feet.

You can find them in meadows, near streams, and even in roadside ditches.

Elderflowers begin blooming in early spring and continue to do so throughout the summer. Late spring is the ideal time to harvest them but, you should be able to find blooms that have not turned into elderberries into late summer depending on where you live.

How to Harvest Elderflowers

When heading out to collect some elderflowers it’s a good idea to bring a pair of scissors or a knife. The stems are tough and can be difficult to break with your fingers alone.

Also, take a breathable bag or a basket along with you to hold the flowers. They are delicate and will wilt quickly, losing much of their flavor and fragrance if stored without airflow.

Be sure to wear long pants and good shoes if you know you’ll be treading through tall grass or brush.

A little Harvesting Etiquette

Only cut what you need from the plant, cut at the very base of the flower clusters, taking only what is necessary. Don’t completely wipe the plant of its flowers either. It’s much better to leave some as they will turn into Elderberries later.

Storing Elderflowers

It is best to use elderflowers the same day you harvest them. Fresh flowers will award you with the most flavor and nutrients. Alternatively, if you must wait to use them, storing elderflowers in the refrigerator will keep them fresh a little longer. You can also dry them.

To dry them, hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area for a few days until they are nice and crisp. Pull the flowers off with the tines of a fork, and store in an airtight container.

Safely Identifying Elderflowers

Use caution when foraging wild elderflowers in identifying the correct plant. Hemlock has similar flowers and leaves and is highly poisonous.

poison hemlock elderflower soda native me
Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
elderflower soda
Common Elderflower

Please don’t let this scare you away, just be sure that you do your homework and don’t go foraging blindly. If you aren’t sure, don’t use it to make wild elderflower soda or anything else!

Also, exercise caution even if you have identified the correct plant. The leaves, stems, and roots of the Elder are toxic and contain cyanide. You should only consume the flowers and berries.

Making Elderflower Soda

Now that you’ve obtained your elderflowers, you’ve already done the real grunt work of making wild elderflower soda. Now all you need to do is combine all the ingredients according to the recipe card below and wait.

If you don’t have any ginger bug starter or whey handy, don’t fret. Ginger bug starters need to be made ahead about a week in advance, but whey is easy to find and you can use it right away.

Just buy some plain yogurt, cultured cottage cheese, or cultured sour cream and pour out the liquid that sits on top into a small bowl. Just like that, you have your whey.

If you want to go the extra mile and have enough patience, I highly recommend carbonating your wild elderflower soda. after all, there’s nothing more refreshing than some bubbles.

When the initial ferment is complete, add a little more honey and place an airtight lid on the jar or transfer your soda to swing-top bottles.

I’m partial to the swing-top bottles because I love the sound they make when you “pop” the lid off. It’s like opening a bottle of champagne. They are also easier to pour from.

Allow to carbonate for 1-2 days or until the fizziness is to your liking.

wild elderflower soda

A Note of Caution When Adding Carbonation:

Be sure to burp your containers at least 1-2 times per day. Depending on factors like potency and temperature, pressure may build more quickly than expected and bottles may explode if left unchecked.

Also, always open your bottles over a sink or outside, the bubbles may overflow or spill out upon opening.

Elderflowers are truly amazing, not only for their medicinal uses but for their unique flavor, easy identification, and abundance in wild yeasts. Making wild elderflower soda is a great way to experience all of these benefits with the added bonus of probiotics.

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Wild Fermented Elderflower Soda

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By Curie Ganio
Prep Time: 15 min Cooking Time: 3-7 days

Wild elderflower soda is a uniquely delicious fermented beverage with powerful medicinal properties and is full of gut restoring probiotics.

Ingredients

  • 7 C Spring Water (or unchlorinated)
  • 2-3 Elderflower Heads (stems removed)
  • 2-3 Lemons (juiced)
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 3 Tbsp Ginger Bug Starter or Whey

Instructions

1

Combine all ingredients in a 2 liter (70 fl oz/8 cup) and gently stir until the honey has dissolved.

2

Cover the top of the jar with a clean cloth or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.

3

Place the jar in a warm area out of direct sunlight. On a countertop or a pantry shelf works great.

4

Stir a few times per day, submerging the elderflowers each time to prevent mold growth.

5

Allow fermenting for 2-6 days, until the soda is slightly fizzy when you stir it.

6

Strain out the elderflowers and debris with a piece of cheesecloth or a wire mesh strainer.

7

Chill and enjoy cold, or continue to the next step to add carbonation.

8

To add carbonation, stir in one more tablespoon of honey and place an airtight lid on the jar or transfer to swing-top bottles using a funnel.

9

Allow to sit in a warm place out of direct sunlight for 1-2 days or until the carbonation has reached your preference.

10

Chill and enjoy cold.

Notes

Be sure to burp your containers at least 1-2 times per day. Depending on factors like potency and temperature, pressure may build more quickly than expected and bottles may explode if left unchecked. Also, always open your bottles over a sink or outside, the bubbles may overflow or spill out upon opening.

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