Yes, the time has finally come! Elderflower trees are starting to bloom here in London.
From what I saw today, some trees are in full blossom already, but not all of them - if the weather stays nice, I'd say next weekend will be a very good time to go picking - OR, if you live in a slightly colder climate, then it probably will be a bit later, just give it a week or two.
I picked about half a bag full of elderflowers and I'm making cordial from it (also known as squash, or syrup) now.
I shared a recipe for elderflower cordial with you last year. It is not difficult, just requires to be patient when picking the flowers and washing them.
The method is called a 'hot method', as you have to boil the water a few times. This enables the cordial to have a longer shelf life, without the need to keep it in the fridge after opening.
Our kitchen is now filled with its lovely smell, and I also kept some as a flower in a vase, as it makes a great decoration too...
...but did you know about the health benefits that elderflowers have?
Elderflower is often used in traditional 'folk' medicine.
Elderflowers are rich in antioxidants and have got anti-inflammatory, and immune-boost properties.
It's also used for detoxification and its antiviral properties help to fight flu, bronchitis and cold.
Elderflowers also contain antihistamine, which relieves symptoms of allergies and sinus issues.
They also have anti-carcinogenic effect, which means they help to reduce so-called free radicals in our bodies.
Lastly, it has got proven diuretic properties, and so is recommended for use during bladder and/or urinary tract infections.
To make the most of its nutritional value, it's recommended to drink it infused in water (aka syrup or cordial).
Elderberries are, on the other hand, a great source of vitamin C, but it's recommended to eat them only when they're fully ripe, as they can cause diarrhoea otherwise.
Other parts of the plant (tree) are used in medicine and cosmetics but are poisonous if consumed, so avoid eating them.
Once you make your own cordial (find the recipe here), it can be used in drinks and also for cooking.
Here is a tip for mixing it:
- 3 slices cucumber/lemon
- 2tsbp elderflower cordial
- 230ml water or sparkling water, chilled
Fill ⅔ of a glass with ice cubes, pour over the cordial, leave to set. Add the water by pouring it slowly over the ice cubes, add the cucumber/lemon and serve.
This makes 1 serving, to make more (i.e. a jar), multiply all ingredients according to the amount of water you'll use.
Note: It can also be mixed with alcohol, but then it loses its health benefits.