Since I had the great fortune of being intimately connected with not only my Danish family, but also with life in Denmark and Danish traditions, I remain especially vulnerable to memories associated with (or triggered by) Danish food: frikadeller (which I perfected during my time as an au pair on a Danish farm), true rødgrød med fløde (which my mormor made with fresh berries from her own garden), genuine rugbrød (the dense, sourdough pumpernickel that held grains so huge they looked like nuts), the open-faced sandwiches of delicate white asparagus and fresh fjord shrimp offered at Grøften in Tivoli gardens at the beginning of the season…
There are more recipes, more mouthfuls, more memories than I can possibly catalog here: I have at least a handful for every single member of my cherished Danish family.
As we set new blue elder seedlings in the ground at our Idaho homestead, I had more memories called to mind: many a Danish matriarch (my mormor, my aunts) made me hylleblomstsaft (elder flower juice/punch) when I was a little girl.
Gathered from the elder bushes at their prime, the blossoms were soaked expertly in the farm kitchen. Each woman enchanted me by making a refreshing, simple, delicious–and unique!–nectar from mundane ingredients and delicate flowers. THAT was my kind of magic.
Today, I have many more years of wisdom and even deeper lore to assign to the Elder bush, its wood, and its flowers.
Part of the honeysuckle family, Elder is considered sacred to many mother and crone goddesses. Herbal wisdom says one doesn’t cut the wood of a living Elder, nor is it ever burned. Symbol of beginnings and endings, Elder has ancient magical associations: the flowers, in particular, are said to restore innocence and possess humility and truth. Want to know more? I’ve mooned over Elder before…
And while much is often made of elder berry wine and elder berry jams, little attention is given to elder flower punch, to which the unique blooms contribute both flavor and spirit: delicate, fragrant, and bright.
Herewith, the closest I came to mormor and Marianne’s Elder Flower Punch, or Hylleblomstsaft.
Elder Flower Punch aka Hylleblomstsaft
Makes generous 2 quarts
- 40 Elder flower bud clusters at their peak
- 3 organic lemons
- 2 quarts of boiling water
- 3 pounds of organic sugar (or, ideally, raw, organic honey just to taste to truly experience the blossom)
- 1 1/2 ounces citric acid
Rinse flowers in cool water and dry gently between two towels. Place flowers in a large heat-proof pitcher or bowl.
Set water over to boil.
Rinse lemons well and roll them across the counter to prime pulp and juice within; slice them into thin slices and lay the slices over the Elder flowers.
Pour the boiling water over the lemon slices and Elder flowers. Add sugar or honey and stir until dissolved. Add citric acid and stir until dissolved. (To add a unique, earthy flavor, add five cinnamon sticks to the steeping brew.) Cover and set in cool location for 24-36 hours.
Strain juice through a sieve coated with cheesecloth or a jelly strainer and allow to drip/rest. Refrigerate or freeze in appropriate containers. Enjoy!
BLESS & BLESSED BE!