Crème de Sureau (Crème de Cassis mais avec Elderberry!)

I love Crème de Cassis, the traditional French liqueur made from blackcurrants. You can dilute it with fizzy water to make a drink, add it to cocktails such as the classic Kir, pour it over desserts, etc. and it always evokes the warm, heady days of Summer. It occurred to me to make it from elderberries, and here is the recipe for a great twist on an old classic. As sureau is French for elder, I’ve named this delicious liqueuer, Crème de Sureau.

800 grams of ripe black elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
70 cl bottle of red wine
1 kilo white sugar (quantity adjusts see below)
600 ml brandy (quantity adjusts see below)

Destalk (roughly), wash and mash the elderberries with a potato masker in a large glass bowl. Add the wine, mix it up, cover and leave for two or three days stirring once or twice a day.

Strain it through a muslin or nylon cloth into a large pan. This will stain the cloth so don’t use your best net curtains!

Measure the amount of liquid you have, and add an equal quantity of sugar by volume. (So for each ml of juice, add a gram of sugar.)

Now put these back in the saucepan and heat over a low setting, stirring all the time. DO NOT let the mixture simmer or boil, or you will boil away the alcohol!

Once the sugar has dissolved, keep on the lowest heat setting for an hour or two with the pan lid off. Stir now and then. It is ready when the liquid has evaporated enough to turn into a light syrup. Take it off the heat. (If you’re impatient you can speed this part up by boiling for 20 minutes but you will loose some of the alcohol!)

Once cool, measure the amount of liquid you have again. Now stir in 1 part of brandy for every 3 parts of elderberry liquid.

Decant into clean, dry bottles. You won’t need to sterilise them as the alcohol will act as the preservative – although sterilising is a good habit to get into! Store for a fortnight before using as a substitute for creme de cassis.

Elderberry Cocktail Recipes

Sureau Kir
1 part creme de sureau
4 parts of dry white wine
Also sometimes called a “blanc-cassis” or should we now say a “blanc-sureau”?

Sureau Kir Royal
1 part creme de sureau
4 parts champagne

Sureau Kir Cardinal or Communard
1 part creme de sureau
4 parts red wine

Sureau Kir Medocain
1 part creme de sureau
4 parts rosé wine

Sureau Kir Breton
1 part creme de sureau
4 parts cider

What do you think?

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