We have a relatively small window of opportunity to make use our plant of choice this week so we encourage you to get out there quick before the Elderflower disappears until next year.
Everywhere you look Elderflower is out in bloom. It is one of the last of the great tree flower displays of the year
What is Elderflower?
Elderflower trees are incredibly common across the UK. They are small hedgerow trees with corky bark. The leaves are made up of 5-7 oval leaves. The small creamy coloured flowers are currently in full bloom.
Elderflowers- Sambucus nigra, or common elderflower but there are over 25 species of Elderplant around the UK.
Mystery and Superstition
It is steeped in mystery and superstition. Imogen was told if you stood under an elder tree on Midsummer’s Eve you would see fairies. You had to be careful not to fall asleep or the fairies would carry you off. Legend also has it that Christ’s cross was made from Elder Tree which is why people put it on their door to protect them from evil spirits.
- Be Prepared – Take a pair of sharp scissors and something to carry them in that won’t crush the delicate flower heads – a reusable canvas bag is great.
- 2. Cut just below where all the main stems meet the green stem – you want as little green stem in your recipes as possible.
- Gather only a few flowerheads from each tree to allow as many as possible to flower into berries – a crucial late summer food source for birds, mammals and insects
- 4. Pick Elderflowers on a hot day to ensure the pollen count is as high as possible. You should be caked from head to toe in pollen.
- Before using, pick off any insects but don’t run the flowers under the tap or you’ll wash all the natural yeast off.
- Elderflowers smell like Summer – floral and creamy and ‘Summery’. Quite often you can smell the scent as you get closer towards the plants. Elderflowers should not smell like wee, musty or damp. If they do, find fresher smelling blooms.
- If you aren’t sure what it is – take a picture and get it verified. You can share it in our Facebook Group. Never eat something you are unsure of. https://www.facebook.com/groups/seasonalfoodcollective/
Medicinal and Healing Properties
For thousands of years elderflowers have been believed to have medicinal and healing properties. The flowers have both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects according to Country File.
We use more Elderflower in our recipes then most – this makes the cordial stronger, more concentrated so you get more from each bottle. Like fairy liquid!
What you need
● 40 ripe Elderflower Heads
● 2 litres of boiling water
● 1 kg of Caster Sugar
● 2 tsp of citric acid or half a cup of lemon juice
(You can get citric acid from your local pharmacy or supermarket and some local farm shops)
1. Check the flowers for any insects, place them in a bowl and pour over the boiling water.
2. Cover loosely and leave to steep overnight.
3. Strain Elderflowers through a muslin cloth (if you don’t have a muslin cloth a pillow case works well) into a saucepan
4. Add the sugar and citric acid and bring to the boil
5. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
5. Leave to cool and pour into a sterilized bottle or jar and put it in the fridge
It will last for a month in the fridge or you can freeze it to keep all year for the winter months.
Elderflower Ice Tea
What you need
● 1 Earl Grey Teabag or other teabag of choice
● 125ml of Boiling Water
● 15 large ice cubes
● 40 ml elderflower cordial
● Half a Lemon
1. Pop the teabag in a a large teapot or bowl and pour over the boiling water
2, Leave to infuse for 90 seconds
3. Mix the ice, cordial and squeeze in the lemon juice in a jug.
4. Pour the hot tea into the jug and mix until it is cold
5. Pop ice into glasses and pour the tea over it.
Imogen and Duncan, co founders of Bangers and Balls and the Foodie Revolution will be here every Friday bringing you delicious seasonal recipes as well as sharing foraging tips.
They are passionate about eating the seasons, sustainability and making local food affordable for all.