Updated: Sep 26, 2021
It was a sunny afternoon and I had invited some friend to join me in picking the apples on our riverside property in England. At that time in my life, I was living in England with my husband and first born. The military took us there. So I was glad when I made friends to share time and resources with. As we scaled the ladder to reach the sweet apples, one of my dear friends to this day, Erin, pointed out an elderberry bush right on our land!
This plant ally is one of my very favorites. She blooms sweet smelling clusters of tiny while flowers in late spring into summer. The scent is subtle yet intoxicating. Come September she bursts with clusters of dark purple berries. Her deep color indicative of her antioxidant and medicinal powers. We call her “natures flu shot”.
Blessed we are to utilize her in our homemade recipes. The first recipe of the Elder season is Elderflower Cordial. Perfect added to soda water, topping on ice cream, mixed with champagne, drizzled over oatmeal, or used in marshmallow recipes. One must first pick the beautiful flowers and then make the cordial.
When is the best time to pick elderflowers?
Gather elderflower heads on a sunny, dry morning (before the insects harvest the flowers’ pale yellow pollen) as their aroma fades by the afternoon. In Europe and Northern America you find elderflowers (Sambucus nigra, or common elder) flowering from May to June with exact timings depending on the weather and elevation. A mild winter should make for a bumper crop come late spring. If you are in a higher elevation like me, you can sometimes find flowers well into July, and the berries well into October!
Tips for picking elderflower
• Find elder trees that aren't by a busy road and avoid flowers lower down that dogs or foxes may have peed on
• Avoid any that smell of urine, the smell means they’re past their best
• Snip off the flower heads with as little stalk as possible so the plant is not damaged
• Before using, pick off any insects but don't run the flowers under the tap or you'll wash the natural yeasts off! Watch This Recipe in Action Here
4.5c Granulated sugar
4 3/4c boiling water
50g citric acid or juice 2 large lemons
zest of 2 large lemons
15 elderflower heads, stalks removed
Put the sugar in a bucket or basin with the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add the citric acid or lemon juice and the lemon zest.
Shake the elderflowers to remove any insects and add the flowers to the sugar syrup. Cover and leave to stand for 24-48 hours, stirring morning and night.
Add to water and ice for a refreshing, long drink or top up with soda water or Champagne for a summer fizz.
What are you waiting for? Try it and let me know what you think!!
Dont want to make it you can BUY Elderflower Cordial HERE!