ALL THINGS ELDER
As Summer hits our intrepid foraging fanatic & wild ingredient guru has been out and about. Read all about it here.
Spring had a good old tussle with Winter this year, in a battle for dominance that lasted well into April. It was only then, when the Birch sap stopped flowing that the dandelions declared Spring the victor and celebrated with a stunning show that I would liken to a low level, solar powered, daytime fireworks display.
For us here, it was the start of an ingredient capture catch up, that has continued ever since.
Although something of a cliche - nature really is so bountiful and it is impossible to get everything. It is inevitable that some years some things will get missed. Other things though, are too easy and too good to ignore.
For us, anything Elder related is on the "must" list.
A really generous tree - providing the fruit "Sambucus Nigra" or Elderberry - it has been revered for millennia for its health giving and tasty offerings. It is home to the Elder Mother, a protective spirit and none other than Hippocrates himself called it Mother Nature's Medicine Chest. Anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and excellent for boosting the immune system, Mother Elder gives plenty to be happy about. The flowers are real harbingers of summer. Their tangy scent and frothy, ivory, dinner plate sized flower heads are one of the easiest and most rewarding forages out there.
Go out I say, on a sunny day, and fill a bag with her blossom. Take it home and experiment. You really wont regret it. Try fritters and ice cream, gooseberry and elderflower jam, try simple cordial or syrup for making cocktails or drizzling on dessert or go wild and make a champagne style drink with which to toast the Elder Mother or anything else that should be celebrated.
Just spare a thought for the wild life (and the Aelder makers!) and only take what you need. In 3 months those flowers will be berries and it will be Aelder time. I'll drink to that.