A Blooming Lovely Monday. Elderflower

Elder Sambucus_nigra_004

Before I welcome you to a Blooming Lovely Monday I want to tell you that the first of my basic recipes is up if you check the pages section. More will be added over the next few weeks.

The flower I am looking at today is one I love dearly, the elderflower. These frothy white blooms appear in June and are the signal of midsuummer arriving. The flowers are that of the Elder tree which itself is steeped in lore.

It is said you should not sleep in the shade of the Elder. If you do you take the chance you could well meet with the fae when you wake.

Elder appears in medicinal recipes as far back as ancient Egypt where it was said the flowers could improve the complexion and ease burns. The first use of Elder wood in homes goes as far back as the neolithic.

The Elder tree is sacred to the Goddess and at one time no woodsman would cut it without first offering a prayer and explanation of why he needed the wood.

With the coming of Christianity the lore about the Elder was changed to give the tree an evil reputation. It was said Judas hung himself from an Elder tree and the cross on which Christ was crucified was said to be made from Elder. Despite this, people in the past still used Elder in the way they always had to protect their barns and byres from danger. Yet there were some things Elder should not be used for. Never put your infant in a crib made from Elder or the fairies will come and pinch the child until it screams.

The beautiful fragrant elderflowers have uses of their own, Hippocrates and Pliny recomended them for medicinal purposes and so does Culpepper in his Complete Herbal.The flowers have antiseptic and anti-inflamitory properties and are still used by herbalists today to help with colds and flu, as mouthwash and aa a rub for certain types of arthritis.

The blooms can be used for lotions and oils, to make tea, jelly, cordial, wine or champagne.

The elderberries have a different range of uses.

I thought you might like a recipe for Elderflower cordial. You might just be lucky enough to find some blooms to use to make this. Please be careful you have the right species of Elder if you chose to try this.

Elderflower Cordial.

2 unwaxed lemons, organic if possible you don’t need the addition of spray stuff

7 ounce of white sugar

1 pint of water

6 heads of elderflowers

2 teaspoons of citic acid.

Collect your elderflowers from a site away from lots of traffic. Make sure the blooms smell sweet and are still fresh. Shake them to get rid of any insects before you take them home.

Gently wash your elderflowers to rid them of any dust. Scrub the lemons and peel them. Keep the peel you will need it. Cut the lemons in half to squeeze them and then strain the juice to get rid of pips.

Put the sugar and water in a pan together and bring to the boil. Add your washed elderflowers and simmer for ten minutes.

Add the lemon rind to infuse as you set the syrup aside to cool. Once cooled strain the syrup into a jug or bowl.

Disolve the citric acid in the lemon juice and add to the syrup. Stir gently and then pour into a sterilized bottle.

Keep this in the fridge.

Dilute the syrup to taste with water. A lovely summer drink.

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

Image By Willow (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), 
CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC BY 2.5 
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

6 thoughts on “A Blooming Lovely Monday. Elderflower

  1. Wonderful post, Daisy. Elderflower lore is so fascinating. I love all the legends associated with the trees and the flowers. I remember doing a Mythical Monday post on this one many months ago and discovering all sorts of things I didn’t know. Those old customs and traditions always make for intriguing reading!

    • Thanks for commenting, Mae. I found out quite a bit on the trees, the flowers and the berries that I didn’t already know. I was surprised at the ammount of lore associated with Elder and
      how widespread in both location and era the ideas were.

  2. Oh, I love syrup made of these flowers. My grandmother used to make some delicious tasting wine from it, too. Interesting lore linked to it. Thanks for the recipe and the legends!
    In Romanian lore, 3 days after the summer solstice there is a tradition, a kind of holiday called Sanziene/Dragaica. These are kind fairies. One of the customs is to eat a sort of bread made of dough in which Elderflowers are added! In the folk tradition these flowers have the power to protect the house against evil spirits, so people hang branches over the windows and doors or plant elderflower near their houses..

    • Thank you for commenting, Carmen. I love to hear about the traditions in Romania. Here too Elder was used as a protective symbol. I expect it still is used. I think they are beautiful trees.

  3. I love this post and any you do with herbals. How charming about the elderflower. So if we want to visit faeryland, we can take a nap beneath the elderflower. We best have someone stand guard though, right? Would they see us simply fall asleep or vanish into faeryland? That has always fascinated me. Don’t you love the name Culpepper? I think there was a Culpepper in Anne Bolelyn’s life.

    • Thanks for commenting, Flossie. I think the idea is that the person vanishes into fairyland. I think it ties with the old tales of people who return a hundred years after they disappeared.
      Yes, Culpepper is a great name. The link with Henry VIII is to Katherine Howard, Culpepper was her lover. Unlike Anne who I firmly believe was innocent of the crimes they accused her of, Katherine was guilty and openly admitted. Her story is an utter tragedy.

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