Find out how to make a sparkling, probiotic cordial from golden raspberries (or red), elderflowers, and honey. This is one of the best flavor combinations you’ll ever experience!
Growing lots of edible plants gives you an opportunity to be a culinary alchemist. While perusing your garden plants, you might wonder, “Can I take these ingredients and turn them into gold?”
Sometimes, you strike out with your culinary experiments. However, sometimes you strike gold. In the case of this golden raspberry, elderflower, and honey fermented cordial recipe, we think we’ve struck gold!
Let’s briefly discuss the primary ingredients before diving into how to make this recipe.
One of our favorite edible and medicinal plants that we’ve written about extensively is American black elderberries (Sambucus canadensis). See:
- Complete guide to growing elderberries
- Recipe: elderflower kombucha
- How to make elderberry syrup
- How to make sparkling elderflower cordial
While cooked ripe elderberries are delicious and have proven medicinal benefits (namely reducing the severity and duration of viral infections), the other choice edible part of the elderberry plant is the flowers, aka elderflowers.
All other parts of the elderberry plant are actually poisonous.
Elderberry trees/shrubs can grow to 15′ in height at maturity and are covered in gorgeous clusters of dainty white flowers in the spring through early summer. That means you can harvest plenty of flowers and still end up getting lots of ripe berries later.
Elderflowers have a deliciously unique, honey-like flavor that’s very mild and subtle. They can easily be drowned out by stronger flavors.
Perhaps the most famous use of elderflowers is as the flavoring in the French liqueur, St.-Germain.
Golden raspberries (Rubus idaeus) are affectionately known as the “champagne of raspberries.” That’s partly due to their golden, champagne-like color and partly because they’re far more rare and unique than red raspberries. (We’ve never seen golden raspberries in a grocery store.)
Golden raspberries are genetically identical to red raspberries, except they’re missing the genes that cause their fruit to produce anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds that turn red raspberries red when they ripen.
There are numerous cultivars/varieties of golden raspberries. We grow ever-bearing ‘Fall Gold’ because it produces multiple rounds of fruit.
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What do golden raspberries taste like?
Golden raspberries taste like red raspberries with the tang turned down and the sweet, floral flavors turned up.
Harvesting tip: when golden raspberries first turn from white to yellow and get slightly soft, they’re delicious. However, if you let them ripen for another 12-24 hours, they turn a deeper golden color and their flavor is even better, so be patient!
Our ripe golden raspberry season just so happens to overlap with our elderflower season. Given how much we love the subtle nuanced flavors of both ingredients, we wanted to figure out a way to combine them.
A fermented cordial seemed like a good direction. Given the subtle flavor notes of each ingredient, we didn’t know if one would overpower the other or if they’d be complimentary.
Answer: they’re delightful together.
The other two important ingredients:
1. Local honey
We’re fortunate to have a 5-gallon bucket of honey harvested from our own backyard hive. This means the flavor of our honey comes from flowers growing within a few mile radius of our home — likely even some of our own elderflowers!
Honey also functions to provide sugar for the beneficial lacto acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts responsible for fermentation. As these microbes digest the sugar in the honey, they add novel, nuanced flavors and bubbles/sparkles.
*Note: you don’t have to buy any fancy LAB or wine yeasts to make this recipe. Your raspberries and elderflowers provide those for you.
2. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Nope, our Meyer lemons aren’t ripe this time of year, so we have to opt for store-bought organic lemons. If you don’t have fresh lemon juice, you can use:
- lemon juice concentrate (1:1 ratio as fresh lemon juice in recipes), or
- citric acid (1:4 ratio as lemon juice) – example 4 tablespoons of lemon juice = 1 tablespoon citric acid.
In addition to balancing out the flavors by adding some tang, lemon juice lowers the pH of your ferment, making it even more inhospitable for pathogenic microbes.
If you’ve made any of our other sparkling fermented drinks before, you probably know the basic how-to’s of this recipe. If not, here are some pointers to help you get things right:
1. Use glass containers with breathable lids and store at room temp.
Use a glass container to make your ferments, not plastic or metal. We used a standard 1 quart jar for this small-batch recipe.
Cover the lid with a breathable cloth, like linen or a paper towel, and secure the fabric with a rubber band or a jar lid. This lets the ferment breathe and off-gas while keeping unwanted microbes out.
Also, keep your ferment at room temperature, between 68-72°F the entire time. Keep it out of the sun as well.
2. Stir at least twice daily.
At least every 12 hours, vigorously stir your ferment for about 30 seconds each time with a clean spoon. Doing so mixes the ingredients and oxygenates the cordial, keeping the friendly microbes active and respiring.
If you don’t regularly mix your ferment, you can end up with funky, off flavors.
3. It’s ready when your taste buds tell you it’s ready — within reason!
How long does it take for this recipe to be done? It should take 3-4 days for your ferment to start getting very active and bubbly. At that point, you’ll want to start taking a small taste each day after you stir it.
That way, you can monitor its development. Exactly when your ferment is done is up to you. We’d recommend somewhere between 7-14 days. Wait too long and you’ll start to get off flavors. (Too soon, and the drink will be too sweet.)
When your ferment is done, strain out the solids and be sure to give the flowers a good squeeze by hand to get all the goodies out. Then put it in an air-tight jar or bottle and refrigerate it.
The cold temperatures in your fridge arrest fermentation. Your finished fermented cordial will store for months in the fridge since the microbial activity slows to a crawl.
4. How to use this drink…
This sparkling cordial makes a delightful, VERY lightly alcoholic apertif or disgestif (probably no more than 2-3% alcohol) to sip before or after a meal. Stretch it a bit with club soda and/or ice cubes for a virgin beverage/mocktail on a hot summer night.
You can also fortify your sparkling golden raspberry-elderflower cordial with a non-flavored, colorless spirit like vodka. What you don’t want to do is add any strong flavors that might overpower the subtle delicious notes of the elderflowers, golden raspberries, or honey.
Recipe: Golden raspberry, elderflower, and honey fermented cordial
Golden raspberry, elderflower, and honey fermented cordial
A simply, fast bubbly probiotic drink made with golden or red raspberries, elderflowers, and honey.
- 3/4 cup elderflowers
- 3/4 cup golden raspberries use red raspberries as alternative
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 cups water
Combine ingredients in glass jar. Stir until all ingredients mixed. If honey doesn't fully dissolve during initial stirring don't worry - it will dissolve later. Cover jar with breathable lid (linen or paper towel), and keep jar at room temperature out of sunlight.
Vigorously stir for 30 seconds every 12 hours, or at least twice per day with a clean spoon. After fermentation initiates and drink gets bubbly, begin to taste a small amount after each stirring to monitor the flavor development. Once it's delicious, bubbly, not too sweet and perfect for your taste preferences, the drink is finished. This may be somewhere between 7-14 days. Strain out solid ingredients and store liquid in air tight, non-breathable jar or bottle in fridge. It will last for months in your fridge.
Serve as-is for non-alcoholic beverage or add a flavorless spirit like vodka.
Whether you drink your golden raspberry, elderflower, and honey cordial as a mocktail or as the base for a mixed drink, we hope you love it as much as we do.
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