Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Elderflower -
Sambucus nigra, flattened panicles of scented white flowers followed by small glossy, round black berries. Upright, bushy shrubs in hedgerows, woods and thickets.
Flowers in early summer, fruits in late summer.

Easy to grow in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soils and also thrives on extremely chalky sites

Flowers are used in cordials and wine, berries are only edible when cooked and can be used in wine and jellies.

Elderflower cordial

By mid-May the elderflower will be coming into blossom and while not strictly a herb, it is a refreshing summer drink you can make yourself. Best made with fresh flowers, which have been picked on a sunny day when they are still creamy in colour before they fade to white. At this time they have the highest amount of pollen, which contains the yeast.
  • 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of water
  • 1.8kg (4lb) cane sugar
  • Juice and thinly peeled rind of 6 unwaxed lemons
  • 30ml (2 tblsp) of cider or wine vinegar
  • 40 elderflower heads. Shake them well to remove live insects and only wash if picked beside a road.
Method: Bring the water to the boil and pour into a sterilised container. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. When cool add the lemon rind and juice, also the vinegar and elderflowers. Cover with several layers of muslin and leave for 24 hours. Filter through muslin into strong glass bottles. The drink is ready after two weeks. Serve chilled, diluted with still or carbonated water to taste. Use within three months

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