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Elderflower Everything

The end of spring & beginning of summer time is marked by Elderflowers in the hedgerows, in graveyards, in car parks, in fact once you start noticing them they pop up everywhere!

The Elder or Sambucus has edible flowers in early summer & then in autumn edible berries, the leaves & bark are not edible & the berries are only edible when cooked to make sauces, jellies, jams or fermented to make wine.

The flowers themselves are quite distinctive, large, flat & wide umbels full of tiny creamy white blooms, a floral scent (that can smell a little like cat’s pee as the flowers get older & more discoloured). If you’re not too sure what they look like, use this helpful guide to identifying them correctly & bear in mind the basic rules, never pick below knee height in case of dog pee, never pick on a busy road because of pollution, never steal from your neighbours tree because it’s rude & lastly if you find a good place to pick them never divulge your secrets!

Elderflowers can be used in a range of culinary products, Elderflower cordial is the one that springs to mind, but Elderflower vinegar, fritters, liqueur & Champagne are all great to try too. A word of warning on the homemade Elderflower champagne though, it gets quite lively once the fermentation starts. My own attempt sort of exploded in my kitchen, so release those gases regularly or use fool proof bottles designed specifically for fermentation! River Cottage has a good recipe to try & lots of similar tales of exploding bottles on their forum.

Over on our Mighty Fine recipe page we have a recipes for a simple Elderflower cordial & a new one for Elderflower fritters, a cheap & quick seasonal delight & taken to new heights when drizzled with warmed MightyFineThings Spiced Kent honey.