Sweet, earthy, refreshing with a taste that sparkles; elderflower cordial is such a delight that it inspired me to want to know more about the elderflower.
The elderflower is a bright little flower looking quite similar to queen anne’s lace or cow parsley; except the elderflower comes from a deciduous bush that can actually grow quite large. Interestingly, for as delicious as the elderflower tastes, all other parts of the plant are toxic (except for the ripe berries).
From a culinary perspective, the elderflower is small and sweet smelling, almost like honey or honeysuckle. In fact, it used to be classified in the honeysuckle family until a more thorough investigation of its DNA revealed that it was not part of that family. The flowers are in season across Europe, parts of Asia, and even Africa from May to July. They are most popularly used in drinks such as cordials or spritzers although there are quite a few recipes for using elderflower in both sweet and savory meals. How about some Duck breast with elderflower, goat cheese, and peas? The elderflowers just need to be cooked first, either by steeping them in water or by soaking and then drying to be added to dishes.
From a health perspective, the elderflower actually has some really great properties for health. They are packed with bioflavonoids and are antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. Research demonstrates that elderflower extract can be effective in killing pathogens in a hospital setting, including MRSA. Elderflowers are also antiflammatory, helping to eliminate system inflammation. They help reduce blood sugar and manage glucose levels. Research suggests they are a potent digestive and diuretic, helping to cleanse the kidneys and bladder and eliminate constipation. Elderflowers are also analgesic, helping to alleviate pain, both systemic and localized.
Easy Elderflower Cordial
- 10 large elderflower heads
- 900g granulated sugar
- 600ml litres water
- 2 lemons
Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Strip large ribbons of zest off the lemons with a vegetable peeler, chop off each end, then slice the lemon and place them in a large bowl with the elderflower heads.
Pour the hot syrup over the lemons and elderflower heads and give it a good stir. Cover the bowl with a cloth or a big plate and leave it for 24 hours.
Strain the mixture with muslin or kitchen paper in a sieve and pour into sterilized bottles or jars.