Making Elderflower Hard Cider

I was first exposed to elderflower while visiting Sheppy’s in Somerset, England. It was one of our favorite hard ciders we tried (okay, I had several favorites but I was standing physically in Sheppy’s and I am a cider geek). Partly because it was very different from flavors we were accustomed to having in the US. My wife soon began trying a variety of elderflower drinks. The elderflower has a rich flora aroma with a hint of sweetness. It reminded me of single variety honeys like tupelo or orange blossom. It’s just not as sweet. Our favorite flavor profile was elderflower with citrus, specifically lime. We enjoyed it so much that I knew what I had to develop an elderflower hard cider recipe once we returned home.

Elderflower Cider By Prickly Apple Cider
Elderflower Hard Cider By Prickly Apple Cider

The elder plant actually provides two adjuncts that work well in hard cider. The flower or elderflower, which is a prolific small white bud with yellow anthers on the stamens. The other potential adjunct is the berry or elderberry, which is usually a dark blue or even black berry, though it can be other colors. The flower provides aromas and flavors while the berry provides color, tannins, and some tartness. See the visual difference below.

Bottles of Elderflower and Elderberry Ciders by Prickly Apple Cider
Elderflower Hard Cider -Vs- Elderberry Hard Cider

For the elderflower hard cider recipe, I steeped the dried organic flowers with water and lime juice. While most dessert apples will provide a good acid base for this cider, the lime brings some citrus notes that I think enhance the elderflower.

My approach to hard cider is to make it either about the apple or the adjunct. I am not trying to create an artificial or over-whelming flavor when I use adjuncts. However, I do want it to come through as the main aroma and profile. I am trying to use the apple to carry the adjunct. Traditional ciders, like my Black Magic, focus on the apple.

You can find my Elderflower Hard Cider recipe in the Hard Cider Recipe section. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear how it went or about interesting ideas you might have for enhancing it. If you have questions, you can always leave me a comment or get a copy of my book for more details on how to make craft hard cider.

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