Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Lockdown Eased Just in Time to Forage for Elder Flowers


Phew! The Covid19 lockdown has been eased just in time. It's the moment in the season when I need to go out and forage for Elder flowers to make syrup. Below is the post I wrote about it on this date in 2015.

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Elder Sambucus niger is a common small tree in the Touraine. The wood is soft, so it doesn't have a commercial value. But from May to early July elder produces gazillions of tiny creamy white flowers held in flat clusters all over the tree, fragrant and smothered in yellow pollen.

The large elder at the back of our house when we moved in (no longer there as we had to remove it).
Elder Sambucus niger in an overgrown garden.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The flowers have been used as part of the suite of ancient herbal remedies in Europe for centuries, for coughs and colds. Modern research suggests that they may indeed be effective against sinusitus, and can lower blood sugar.

Homemade elder flower syrup, made into cordial.

The flowers can be used to make a subtle but delicious variation on lemonade. Pick them while they are at their peak, and have plenty of pollen still.  My recipe for elder flower syrup is here. You can bottle it as above or freeze it in icecube trays and use it from frozen.


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