Recipe: Elderflower Vinegar

Elderflower is a bit of a novelty up north, where it’s not cold enough.

Words: Kristina Jensen

I’ve had a bit of a go at the main elderberry bush in my garden this year, but there’s nothing to fear. This plant is seemingly indestructible unless you are armed with some kind of terrible poison. I’ve only recently discovered that the elderflower is considered a bit of a novelty up north. It seems that it isn’t cold enough up in them there parts to crack the seeds open for germination.

While true that elderflowers are a bit out of control here in the South Island, I am very glad that Marlborough sports enough for me and my loved ones which translates into lots of elderflower vinegar and cordial, and berry-nice cordial, jelly and wine.

Elderberry bush after pruning.


• elderflower fizz (we can’t call it ‘champagne’ because that word is a protected trademark name)
• elderflower cordial
• elderflower fritters
• elderflower vinegar

Recipe: Elderflower Vinegar

This is based on an old French recipe that combines the sweet fragrance of the flowers with freshly harvested savoury garden herbs. You will need a glass jar for this – an Agee preserving jar is perfect.


10-12 elderflower flower heads
garlic cloves
fresh sprigs of thyme, summer savoury,
and/or oregano
5-6 chive or onion weed flowers if you have them
10 black peppercorns
White wine or apple cider vinegar


Place everything into the jar and cover with vinegar. Let it steep in a dark cool spot for six weeks, then strain. It’s ready to use straight away and is delicious in summer salad dressings and dips.

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Recipe: Elderflower Cordial

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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