of the Week for 17th October
By Lynn Kirkland
The country roadsides are coming into bloom now with elders putting forth
their delicate creamy white blossoms.
Our elderflowers in the gardens are appearing and enticing us to get out the champagne recipe or the elderflower syrup recipe and make the most of these blossoms.
Of course if you use all the flowers then it will be impossible for the elder tree to then make elderberries for you to make into elderberry wine or syrup.
However the trees are usually large with lots of flowers so this quandary need not occur.
Certainly here at the herb farm we have elders which have self sown all through our woods and there is no shortage of blossoms.
There is a lot of history and folklore connected with these trees.
Gypsy folk held a lot of superstitions about this herbal tree. They regarded it as sacred and would not burn it on the fire nor would they use the wood to make a babys cradle from as they considered it would bring bad luck.
It is thought that witches reside in an elder tree and that you must ask permission if you need to cut down an elder tree.
The elderflowers can be dried and stored away to use for tea and combined with peppermint make a great tea to drink when you have a cold or the flu.
An infusion of the flowers can also be used to soothe dry chapped skin and it is thought to lighten the skin and some books claim it removes freckles.
We know this does not happen as years ago it was tried in our family. Nature has given those sun kisses for a reason.
So if you feel like gathering some blossoms, trying out some herbal champagne, here is a recipe to try.
Dissolve 3 ½ cups of sugar in a little warm water and leave to cool.
Squeeze the juice from a lemon and add to liquid, then cut the rind into 4 pieces discarding the pith.
Make the water up to 4.8 litres and add to the sugar mixture.
Add 4 large elderflower heads which have been picked in full sunshine.
This is because the nectar will contain the yeast to create the effervescence.
Add the lemon rind and 2Tbsps of white vinegar.
Stir, cover and leave for 4-5 days in a non-metallic container.
Strain and bottle.
Leave for 1-2 weeks, when it should have some bubbles.
Serve in chilled champagne glasses with an edible flower such as borage or heartsease for the finishing touch.