Elder is a common tree and shrub. It usually flowers in June/July but as you can see from the photos I took today in Brockwell park it is quite early this year. It is quite easy to identify, I find the scent of the flowers particularly recognisable. As well as the 5/7 leaflet pattern. The word elder derives from the Anglo-Saxon aeld, which means fire because the hollow branches were blown up to stoke fire. There are loads of recipes about for Elderflower and Elderberry so I thought I’d write one down here that sounds particularly good, from my favorite book at the moment; ‘Wild Food’ by Roger Phillips. I intend to make this in the next couple of weeks but need to reclaim some receptacles from a batch of Nettle Beer.
4 x Elderflower heads
4 ½ Litres cold water
2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Dissolve the sugar in a little warm water and allow to cool. Squeeze the juice from the lemon, cut the rind in 4 and put the pieces with the elderflowers in a large basin. Add the wine vinegar, pour on the rest of the cold water and allow to steep for 4 days. Strain off and bottle in screw top bottles. Drink in 6 to 10 days but test after 6 to see it’s not too fizzy. If it’s not worked leave for another week, sometimes the natural yeast in the flowers is slow to act. Serve with ice and lemon
Tip: Don’t wash the flowers it removes too much fragrance but check they are not badly infested with insects