An elderflower head: Elderflowers are considered to be a sign of summer in some countries.
It is easy to make a cordial of elderflower, a popular and refreshingly scented drink in Europe, where elder trees are native. The cordial was popular in Britain and northwestern Europe, where it has a Victorian heritage. However, the Romans also made it.
Elderflower season is short – May to July – later in the north and earlier in the south.
The flower heads are best collected when the tiny buds have just opened and come to bloom before the fragrance becomes tainted. Also, the flowers should be dry.
In central Portugal, elderflowers blossomed a few weeks ago. I had to wait until I bush-cut waist-high grass and flowers on the terrace of the elder tree before I cut the flowers.
Last week, I made and bottled my elderflower syrup. More elderflowers are blossoming, but enough is enough. In sterilized bottles, the syrup will keep for several weeks.
Simply add water to the syrup to suit your taste.
30 elderflower heads
3 pints of boiling water
900 grams of sugar
2 unwaxed oranges, sliced
3 unwaxed lemons, sliced
1. Rinse flowers gently.
2. Pour boiling water over sugar in a large bowl. Stir well. Leave to cool.
3. Add fruit slices and, then, flowers.
4. Leave in a cool place for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
5. Sieve through muslin or sieve.
6. Transfer to sterilized bottles.
It was said that an elder planted by your house would keep the devil away, according to the Woodland Trust in the United Kingdom.