Elderflower is one of my favourite herbs. I love the scent of the flowers, despite them being likened to cat pee.. It’s one of the easiest things to harvest as they grow in such big bunches you only need to get a few heads and you feel like you’ve achieved a lot. It’s always at it’s best during the hottest days of summer. If you want to make an Elderflower Champagne it’s a good idea to try and harvest it before it gets rained on. This is to preserve the natural yeast on the flowers which helps the fermenting process.

I alms  succeeded at Champagne one year but then gave up and opted for Cordial instead! Easily one of the most pleasurable drinks of summer. The flowers are great for cutting through the heat of a fever and I find them cooling even when used as a cordial. They’re gentle but effective. It’s worth drying some of the flowers to use again during autumn when infections and fevers are more common place. It’s a great remedy for kids because it’s so gentle yet powerful.

It’s not well known for this but it’s a good remedy for gently helping those that suffer with insomnia. It was said that if you fell asleep beneath an Elder you might be taken into the Fairy world. A bit like Alice in Wonderland falling asleep beneath her tree.

Elderflower is great for the itchy scratchy feelings associated with Hayfever and cuts through the heat of the irritation. I also think of it as cutting through the heat of the Summer sun. Nothing captures this better than a glass of cool elderflower cordial on a summers day.

Elderflower Cordial recipe

  • approx 25 Elderflower heads
  • Sugar 1kg
  • Water
  • Lemons zest of 3 and 1 orange plus their juice
  1. Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.
  2. Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.
  3. Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using).
  4. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.

I’d like to thank River Cottage for the lovely recipe. Never fails me. 

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By Natasha Richardson

Disclaimer: Please don’t use any herbs featured on this website for medicinal reasons without contacting your health practitioner first.