Elderflowers are growing wild in the hills fringing our farm. The problem is, every bush seems to be either guarded by chest-high blackberry bushes or growing from a ravine of sorts. So after many scratches and a terrifyingly close snake sighting we gave up and called the lovely Jaro Lear.
Born in the Czech Republic, Jaro moved to Australia or more specifically Orange, when he was 10. “Back home in summer," he says, "elderflower plants grew wild along every roadside and throughout the forests around our village.” The Lear family would spend many summer days picking elderflowers for syrups, fritters or tea (using dried flowers).
“After moving to Australia we missed all of that," Jaro says. "That is, until the day we took a walk up Mt Canobolas and found a plant growing wild.” They took a cutting home, and so began the family's small Australian orchard of elderflower plants.
Soon his mother was once again making her cure-all concoction combining elderflower and elderberry extracts (across Western and Eastern Europe this tonic is prized for it’s immune-boosting qualities), and the whole family would take a good spoonful of the stuff every morning in winter.
Jaro now grows about twenty elderflower trees on his property just out of Orange. He harvests the flowers at the beginning of summer and the berries towards the end and uses both to make natural cordials sold under the family's Jarojill Estate label. The range can be found each month at the Orange Farmers Market, at Orange cafe and store Lavendilli Blue and A Slice of Orange.
The syrup itself is easy to make at home, so if you have elderflowers nearby, head out and pick them because according to Jaro, the picking season is quickly coming to a close. Here is a great post about the entire process from one of my favourite blogs, The Year in Food. We like to use it as with sparkling mineral water, folded through whipped cream as a sort of elderflower ‘fool’, as an ice cream topping and my favourite, a mixer for sparkling wine or vodka (yummmmm).
The recipe for the above elderflower jellies with fresh raspberries can be found over on my Wednesday home JustB, please duck over for a look.