Elderberry flowers are still blooming in many places, so get them while you can, but leave lots to turn into berries!
Moore Wilson is selling elderflower cordial for about $14 per 500 mls. You can make your own for the cost of about 250g of sugar.
As well as cordial, the flowers can be made into wine and tea. They can also be used in flower fritters and more.
They have strong cooling properties, so whatever you make from them now, you might want to save plenty for midsummer ... and then for winter.
In herbal medicine, Sambucus nigra flowers have long been used in many cultures for colds, coughs fevers, and inflamed sinuses. They promote sweating, are anti-inflammatory, and work as an expectorant. They also contain anti-viral compounds, with some research strongly suggesting they are effective against the symptoms of certain strains of flu.
The berries have similar medicinal properties. Only eat the ripe berries - and cook them. While a few people seem to be able to tolerate the raw berries, most find them highlyindigestible.
Some ways to keep elderflowers and elderberries to have all year round:
* Dry the flowers
* Freeze the berries
* Make wine from the berries or flowers
* Make preserves from the berries
* Make cordial from the berries or flowers and freeze it
Making elderberry and elderflower wine
There are some good links below to all sorts of elderberry and elderflower recipes, and an internet search will bring up hundreds more!
It's worth saying a bit more about making wine at home though. You can have a go at making elderberry and elderflower wine in a simple, time-honoured way, with very little or nothing in the way of special equipment.
Sandor Ellix Katz, author of the modern classic Wild Fermentation, gives a recipe for Ethiopian t'ej - a mead. You can find the recipe all over the net, including at this site. As Katz points out in his book, the recipe can be adapted to ferment almost any sweet liquid.
So make your elderflower or elderberry cordial according to your favourite recipe, and then follow the t'ej instructions for fermenting it.
If you're not having much luck, or want to cheat a little, you can add a tiny bit of store-bought yeast to get it going. Winemakers yeast is probably preferable, but breadmaking yeast will also do.
(The principles behind making wild wines are very similar to those that underpin starting your own sourdough.)