Elderflowers offer a glimpse of spring. Even on the first day of August, there are heavy glimmers breaking through wintry nights in the bush highlands where I am. The morning frosts are surrendering to winds with fast disappearing cold edges.
The elder tree (Sambucus nigra) is incredible and steeped in mythology and medicinal folklore. The trees produce both flowers and berries (matured flowers) and both can be used to produce potent elixers with incredible nututional benefits. Whilst being super delicious too!
The flowers have been used for centuries as a respiratory aid and also managing fevers and allergies. Nibble a few flowers daily or better still, drink your own handmade cordial!
Mornings are always best for harvesting. Flowers and herbs carry the most potency early in the day. Only pick as many as you need, the first flush of flowers at this time of year naturally precludes overharvesting. The rest secured for hungry pollinators.
Carefully sever the stalks with scissors or secateurs and keep the flowers upright. This ensures the pollen, the source of the delicate flavour and fragrance is kept intact and we lose as few precious flowers enroute as possible.
The flowers are very delicate. Keep handling to a minimum.
A few handfuls of elderflower blossoms
Combine sugar and honey over low heat.
Add 500ml - 1L of water and slowly heat. Remove from heat once dissolved.
Zest lemons and add.
Slide up one of the zested lemons and add. You can add citric acid at this stage if you like for a longer lasting cordial.
Gently dip the blossoms face down into the liquid.
Squeeze one one of the zested lemons into the fray. Slice the other and add. Cover and allow the infusion to sit for an hour.
Filter using a cheese cloth into a bottle and pour yourself a refreshing glass. Embrace the enchanting aroma and sip on pure ambrosia!
The cordial will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks (if not smashed before - it's so so yummy and also delicious added to bubbles!)!