Recently, Mountain Rose Herbs visited Devon Young of the Nitty Gritty Life homesteading blog on her beautiful property in Amity, Oregon. Nestled between the rolling green hills of wine country, her charming old-fashioned farmhouse bustles with eight children, a host of farm animals, and some friendly furry pets. Devon truly homesteads (“doing things the hard way”), which means she practices subsistence agriculture as much as possible.
On our visit, her elder tree had just begun to bloom. We were delighted to join her in the kitchen and be treated to her elder flower simple syrup in sparkling water with an extra treat of homemade rose shortbread.
Are Herbalism And Homesteading Intertwined?
For Devon, the answer is an obvious "yes." Her degree in Complimentary and Alternative Medicine and her many years practicing subsistence living gives Devon a unique perspective on how the two are naturally connected.
Here's what she had to say:
"Homesteading is about self-sufficiency and sustainability. And, at the end of the day, that must extend beyond what we put in that pantry and freezer. My first instinct is always to grow or wildcraft the herbs that I want or need to work with. That said, it is not always possible for a variety of reasons. I love having Mountain Rose Herbs as a resource because I know that I can trust them to deliver high-quality herbs from ethical and sustainable sources.”
Both elder flowers and simple syrup are versatile ingredients in kitchens and herbal apothecaries. Featuring an earthy honey-like sweetness, elder flowers can be used for tea, tinctures, syrups, wine, and cordials—the fresh or dried flower adds an attractive garnish. Simple syrup, equal parts water and sugar, can also be made with honey. Devon jazzed up this fusion of classics with a perfectly paired hint of cardamom and lemon zest.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1 cup fresh elder flowers or 1/2 cup organic dried elder flowers
- Zest of one lemon or 1 tsp organic lemon peel powder
- 1/2 Tbsp. crushed organic cardamom pods
- Add water and sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to just below a boil on medium heat.
- Add elder flowers, lemon zest or lemon peel powder, and cardamom. Infuse for 20-30 minutes.
- Strain well. Bottle and chill in a glass container. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.
- This simple syrup can be combined with sparkling water, used for a kombucha secondary ferment, or to create the refreshing herbal cocktail below.
Sparkling Elder Flower Cocktail Recipe
- 3 oz. of organic unflavored vodka
- 2 oz. elder flower simple syrup
- 6 oz. sparkling water
- 1/4 tsp. Joy Tonic from Urban Moonshine (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Strain and serve in chilled glasses.
4. Garnish with fresh elder flower sprig, if available, and a thinly sliced round of lemon.
Do you love creating Herbal Drinks in the kitchen?