May is the month of elderflowers, followed by elderberries in August. Their beautiful umbels can be found gracing the tops of most elder trees, fragrant and ready for harvest. Every part of the elder tree is medicinal, but the flowers and berries are most frequently used and the safest for internal use. Elderflower has been used in traditional medicine all over the world to help relieve allergies, ward off colds and flu, as well as topically in skincare products. The flower is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-infective.
One way to enjoy elderflower is by making a cordial. The following recipe makes a concentrated non-alcoholic cordial, providing a simple and delicious way to bring this wise herb into your home. For a refreshing afternoon beverage, add it to still or sparkling water (try with a sprig of mint), champagne or a white wine spritzer. It also makes a delightful topping for fresh fruit, yogurt and desserts.
Ingredients + Supplies
- 2 c water
- 2 c organic cane sugar
- 1/2 c fresh elderflowers**
- 1 organic lemon (using a Meyer lemon provides a sweeter citrus)
- 1 1/2 tsp citric acid powder (aka sour salt)
- 24 oz mason jar
**If using dried elderflowers use only ¼ c.
- Simple syrup: Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove and let simple syrup cool.
- Elderflowers: Prepare your fresh elderflowers by gently shaking to remove any hidden insects. With kitchen scissors, simply trim flower heads and compost the green stems.
- Wash and slice lemon and place in a mason jar or bowl along with elderflowers and citric acid.
- Pour in simple syrup, seal and shake. Store in the refrigerator for 48-72 hours before straining (flavor becomes stronger the longer it is infused).
- Using a cheesecloth, strain your cordial and bottle in a glass container of your choosing. Refrigerate for up to three months.