I took a long walk in Prospect Park last week with fellow naturalist and forager Josh Kalin in search of elderflowers in hopes of making elderflower liqueur. With a little internet research I learned a few ways of creating it and how to identify the plant. Unfortunately our search wound up empty, at least as far as elderflower was concerned. We determined that the flowers weren't open yet and made arrangements to hunt again another day.
I picked both leaves and pulled up sapling roots. The leaves I left to dry overnight since they seemed very watery. The roots I gently scrubbed clean and left to dry overnight. Then they were carefully cut up with my garden clippers as a knife didn't seem to do it. They've been sitting in vodka for over a week now and I think I'll leave it a bit longer. So far it smells earthy, licorice-y and definitely has notes of root beer. The leaf I filtered the next day. It's incredibly dark and viscous, I can't even see through the bottle. I filtered it six days ago and there's no sediment and it hasn't clarified at all. It tastes really nice, tho, and very different from the root. I'm thinking sassafras and soda's in the garden this summer.
The best recent discovery was the sweet woodruff in the herb garden, but that's another story for later.