In Maori language "Aroha" is a word meaning love for the land and its people. In 2007 Mark Dillon made his first batch of Aroha cordial from wild elderflowers grown on the Canterbury Plains. Its colour was a beautiful gold and it tasted delicious.
Many years before Mark’s mother picked up a French hitchhiker from the roadside. The Frenchman showed her how to use the elderflower, which was abundant and in full flower at that time. Together they turned the elderflower into a delicious drink which the whole family enjoyed.
Intrigued by its history and pleased by its taste, Mark couldn't believe that elderflower was not more popular in New Zealand. He learnt that the Elder is not native to New Zealand but had been introducted to our land by the early European settlers to be used in their herbal medicines.
Mark's Great Great Grandparents were among the first pioneers and after some searching, he found the recipe for Elderflower Cordial in an old family recipe book.
Mark came across the taste of elderflower again in Scandanavia where they brew it into a cider. He became an advocate for elderflower and by the following spring he had gathered a team of nimble-fingered friends to pick the flowers from the Canterbury Plains. Each evening, they would gather the day’s bounty and produce elderflower cordial using the traditional recipe. When spring came to an end the pickers celebrated the harvest with Elderflower cider and lots of music.
Mark took his Elderflower Cordial to the best deli's around New Zealand and they thought it tasted fabulous. With more and more customers asking for Elderflower drinks, Mark developed a range of Elderflower Sparkle juices for cafes. He used the sweet taste of the elderflower to balance the acid in fruits such as feijoa, rhubarb and blackcurrant. They have won some great awards - including runner up in the Cuisine Artisan Awards 2009.
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