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13. June 2024

Elderberry, the scent of summer in South Tyrol

There is the meteorological beginning of summer on 1 June and the official start on 21 June with the summer solstice. And then there is our personal beginning of the summer season: for us, summer begins when the air is filled with the delicate scent of elderflower. 

Elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup

Elderflowers are present in many areas of South Tyrol and are easily recognisable by their delicious scent.

Image by Hans from Pixabay

In Pustertal Valley, the month of June is characterised by the blossoming of this fragrant plant with a thousand phytotherapeutic properties! It is easy to identify the elder flowers, thanks to their pleasant scent and the small white flowers arranged in small umbrella-like bouquets (more accurately umbrella-like corymbs). The fruits, on the other hand, which follow after flowering, are purplish-black berries when ripe and also have great properties.

Thanks to its unmistakable floral scent, the elderberry is easily distinguished from other white-flowered shrubs. For this reason, its flowers are easy to pick and make a delicious syrup from them. Our advice is not to pick the flowers from elderberry bushes on the sides of busy roads! In South Tyrol, there are many elderberry bushes in isolated places up to an altitude of about 1,500 metres.

Elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup

Young and old will love to enjoy a good glass of cool water with elderberry juice in summer.

Image by -Rita-👩‍🍳 und 📷 mit ❤ from Pixabay

Recipe for elderflower syrup

Holundersirup - Sugar and Lemon
Holundersirup - Sugar and Lemon

Besides elderflower, two other ingredients of the syrup are sugar and lemons.

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Ingredients:

  • 50 elderberry umbrellas 
  • 2.5 kg sugar 
  • 3 organic lemons 
  • 2 organic oranges 
  • 2 litres water

First some important details:

It is preferable to pick elder flowers on a sunny morning, when their scent is most intense. Process the flowers immediately after picking and shake them to remove any insects, but do not wash them. Otherwise the pollen will be washed away and with it some of the typical flavour. Remove the thick stems of the flowers as they have a bitter taste.

Elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup

Elderberry juice diluted in water is a tasty, thirst-quenching drink.

Image by Zoli from Pixabay

Preparation:

Place the flowers in a large vase or other suitable container. Wash the organic oranges and one organic lemon, cut them into thin slices and add them to the flowers. In a second pot, bring the water, sugar and the juice of two organic lemons to the boil. Completely dissolve the sugar in the water, stirring continuously. Let the sugar water cool and then pour it over the flowers and citrus slices. Stir, cover and place in the refrigerator or a cool place. Stir once a day.

After two or three days, pour the syrup through a fine sieve and bring it to the boil. Pour the hot syrup into previously sterilised bottles and seal. It is best not to use too large bottles (250 ml or 500 ml). Elderflower syrup will keep for about 1 year, while opened bottles should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within a few days.

Many elderflower syrup recipes contain citric acid as an ingredient. We use lemon juice instead because it is more natural and in our opinion gives a less acidic taste to the syrup.

Hugo - Apéritif made of sparkling wine & elder juice
Hugo - Apéritif made of sparkling wine & elder juice

An apéritif made of sparkling wine and elder juice, fresh and refined with a peppermint leaf. Ideal for a convivial evening.

IDM Alto Adige/Marion Lafogler

How to enjoy our Elderberry syrup?

Elderflower syrup diluted with still or sparkling water is an excellent thirst quencher for young and old. The syrup is also the main ingredient of the now famous Hugo, a very refreshing alcoholic aperitif ideal for hot summer days. Bartender Roland Gruber from Naturn is considered the inventor of this popular aperitif whose ingredients are: prosecco, elderflower syrup, mint leaves, a slice of lemon, ice cubes and some mineral water. You can find it everywhere, in elegant city venues as well as in high-altitude refuges! You can find it everywhere, in elegant city places as well as in high altitude refuges, and it is perfect after a shopping tour as well as after a nice hike!

Elder flowers, however, can also be used in other ways! We can dry them and use them to prepare a tea. Elderflower tea not only tastes good, but like lime blossom tea, it is an excellent home remedy for fevers and colds.

Elderberry Juice - Elderberries
Elderberry Juice - Elderberries

Elderberries can be used to make jams, juices and liqueurs.

Anemone123 from Pixabay

Once withered, the Elderberry plant still offers its berries, which taste and look completely different from the flowers but are still edible and can be used (after cooking) to make delicious jams, juices and liqueurs.

And if you can't pick flowers or berries or don't have time to prepare the syrup at home, don't despair! In South Tyrol, you can find elderflower syrup throughout the year in many shops and supermarkets (also online).   

Text: Silvia

We are a colourful mix of nature-lovingadventurous and creative editors. All based in South Tyrol, we share the love of writing and photography, the mountains and culture. Our passion is to constantly discover new stories about the land and its people, about identity and tradition, about South Tyrol's quiet places and thousand faces. With our texts and pictures, we want to show you the beauty of this contrasting region and arise your curiosity. But above all, we want one thing: to inspire you to travel.

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