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Elderflower liqueur: flowers turning an awful brown! Help!

I'm making elderflower liqueur for the first time. I combined about 20 flower heads' worth of flowers with just under a 750 ml bottle of vodka. The next day, the top layer of flowers turned a dark brown - it looks like they've either oxidized or spoiled. It doesn't seem like the right reaction - at least, not for human consumption. Thoughts? Thank you!

asked by theyearinfood over 5 years ago
10 answers 3318 views
7b500f1f 3219 4d49 8161 e2fc340b2798  flower bee
added over 5 years ago

Were the ones that turned brown submerged in the alcohol or "peeking" above the surface?

1b057021 8fc4 4c58 a9f6 1f4c22385ce6  bio
added over 5 years ago

@Droplet: Yes they were! I totally meant to mention that. Is there something that you're supposed to do to help submerge them in the beginning? It seems that they like to float. Thanks!

7b500f1f 3219 4d49 8161 e2fc340b2798  flower bee
added over 5 years ago

I have not made Elderflower liqueur myself, just thought that might be one reason. They are light so they will float, but I think you might try to flip the jar on its lid if you decide to give it another try. That way the air will travel through the liquid and might give it a better seal to possible oxidation if that is the problem. The other thing I can think of is the if the flowers themselves had some "bugs"; not quite sure what Elders are susceptible to. I remembered reading this post recently.
http://honest-food.net...

67544da8 1862 4539 8ec8 2d9dfc2601bb  dsc 0122.nef 1
added over 5 years ago

you may want to 'imprison' the flowers in a tea infuser & then drop them into the vodka so that they sink...

67544da8 1862 4539 8ec8 2d9dfc2601bb  dsc 0122.nef 1
added over 5 years ago

or.. if they're in a bottle, tie them in a loose muslin cloth with a couple of those Pie weights or glass marbles & then pop it into the bottle. Wouldn't recommend using metal, dried beans or peas though.. that may wreck the flavor

1b057021 8fc4 4c58 a9f6 1f4c22385ce6  bio
added over 5 years ago

Good call for future batches, Panfusine. I'm still not sure, though, whether or not the current batch is salvageable.

67544da8 1862 4539 8ec8 2d9dfc2601bb  dsc 0122.nef 1
added over 5 years ago

definitely not with the current batch, those flowers sound wilted and the aroma would have been shot along with it as well.. Good luck with the liqueur!

79951eb6 6cc6 49ec beac f4df333fc031  img 3190
added over 5 years ago

Here is a recipe for Elderflower Cordial (as it is known in the UK). It does not have alcohol, but produces a wonderful base for drinks. I have made this many times. Sometimes I have not used citric acid (not always easy to find), but have used lemon juice. The flowers did turn brown in that case, but did not really affect the result. Be sure to pick your flowers in the early morning. That does make a difference.
ELDER FLOWER SYRUP
4-1/2 ounces elderflowers
1 cup sugar
under 2 pints water
1/4 oz. citric acid

Put flowers in a large pot. Boil water, add sugar and citric acid. Pour over flowers and let stand for 24 hours. Strain through coffee filters. This may take a while. Don't worry about bugs. They will be taken care of (!) by the boiling water, and then they will be filtered out as you strain.

I usually triple (at least) this recipe.

E0cc9d5c 6544 49fb b0e4 5c150d9ac0f7  imag0055
added over 5 years ago

I made it. I submerged elderflowers in vodka in a quart jar. Yep, they turned brown, slowly, from the top down. It wasn't bugs or wilted flowers---that's just what happens. No food safety issue here--those flowers were pickled in alcohol! After more than a month (I kind of forgot about it), I strained the liquor, which had turned a light caramel color, and added 1/3 cup sugar. It's lovely. It tastes like brandy with flowers in it.

1b057021 8fc4 4c58 a9f6 1f4c22385ce6  bio
added over 5 years ago

Thanks so much, mainecook61! I'm so happy to hear your success story. I still have the liqueur tucked away, and haven't strained it yet. Now I will.