The Elder tree is in now bloom, with beautiful, fragrant flowers. The Elder has been used as a source of food, medicine and wood since at least the time of Ancient Greece, right through to the present day, as every part is useful in some way. Not surprisingly, it is also steeped in folklore and magical associations. For example, it was said that it could ward off evil and lightening, but it was also associated with the land of Faerie. Apparently, if you sleep under an Elder at midsummer, you would be able to see Faeries, or even be transported to their lands!
However, here at the farm we have stuck with making a delicious, refreshing cordial with the flowers. Firstly we gathered some flower heads, and left the overnight in a strong sugar syrup, to which we’d added some citric acid and lemons. The next day we simply strained it off and ta da! A wonderful, thirst quenching cordial, packed full of Elder goodness.
Here is the recipe if you would like to make your own.
20 large flower heads
1 litre water
85g citric acid
2 lemons zested and sliced
Warm the water with the sugar added until it is all dissolved, and leave to cool. Add the critic acid and pour over flowers and lemons and their zest in a bowl. Cover with clean tea towel over night.
Strain off through a clean cloth (a tea towel or pillowcase is fine), into clean, *sterilised* bottles. You can freeze any bottles you are not going to use straight away.
It is always very important to sterilise bottles and jars before you use them for home preserves – you can do this by running them through a dishwasher or by putting them in the oven at gas mark 3 for 10 minutes.