Herb of the Month: Elderflower
The showy blossoms of hawthorn are slowly giving way to the circular frills of elderflower, Sambucus nigra. Herbalist love this small tree which is another of our sacred Ogham trees, Ruis and the letter R, for all of the healing properties found not only in her flowers but also in the deep purple berries of the autumn.
Elderflower Health Benefits
Elderflower is a tonic for the lungs, clearing catarrh and gently boosting the immune response. In a tea, the flower has diaphoretic properties so it is effective for fevers and encourages the release of toxins by sweating. Add equal parts rose water to a double-strength elderflower tea and use as a revitalizing face wash which, if used over time, can lighten the skin (i.e. sun spots, freckles, liver spots).
A favourite way to enjoy this herb is to make a cordial or a syrup. Cordials are delicious although they have little to no medicinal properties because of the high quantity of refined sugar and the high heat used to create them. Regardless, an elderflower cordial is the taste of summer and is wonderful added to proscecco, summer cocktails and lemonade or dribbled over strawberries and ice cream.
1 cup fresh elderflowers, de-stemmed
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
Bring the water and white sugar to a low boil for approximately 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to a simmer and add the elderflowers. Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, remove from heat and allow to steep for an hour. Strain out the herb and bottle the cordial, storing in the fridge. Will last up to a month.