Elderflowers

June 6, 2008

Elderflowers come from the Elder tree (Sambucus nigra).  The Elder has been called the ‘medicine chest of the people’ due to the remedies that can be made with either its leaves, bark, flowers or fruit to treat many common complaints.  It is a native tree/shrub which is found growing wild in most of Britain.  The creamy white flat topped flowers appear in May and June.  The elderberries ripen ready to pick from September.

The most popular part used now is the elderflowers which are said to contain a plant acid that is anti-inflammatory.  Some people don’t like the smell of the flowers but I can assure you that the elderflower cordial or champagne made from them tastes delicious (in my opinion!).

Harvesting
When picking the elderflowers, make sure they are from trees that are not close to busy roads or other sources of pollution; apparently they are very good at absorbing pollutants from the air.  You can just cut the whole flowerhead from the main stem, so you have the complete ‘umbrella’ (the proper name is ‘umbel’) of tiny flowers.

Use in skincare products
The flowers are used in skin lotions, oils or ointments.  eg elderflower water.  A soothing eye wash can be made from it and it can be used to soothe skin rashes or eruptions.

Household/Garden uses
The leaves can be used as an insect repellent; just boil and strain to make a natural insect repelling spray.

Culinary uses
The flowers can be used to make elderflower cordial, ‘champagne’, wine or vinegar.  A salad dressing made with elderflower vinegar is lovely.

Other recipes include elderflower and gooseberry jelly, elderflower and polenta cake, elderflower fritters and elderflower and gooseberry fool.

Medicinal uses
It is reported by medical herbalists that dried elderflowers when combined with dried yarrow and peppermint to make a tea is effective to use when you have a cold or influenza.  The elderflower lowers fever, reduces inflammation, soothes irritation and has anti-catarrhal effects.

The leaves can also be used in the making of an ointment for use on bruises, wounds or chilblains.

You can also listen to some more detailed information on my podcast about elderflowers which was included in the Alternative Kitchen Garden podcast last June.

If you have any favourite recipes using elderflowers, please feel free to send them to me or add them in a comment below.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: