Nothing screams an English Summer's day more than the fresh scent of blooming elderflowers in the air, as they are in their prime right now I thought this month's perfect herb feature would be elderflowers!
Often used as a gorgeous fragrant flavour to add to drinks and bakes which at the bottom of this page I'll show how I made an elderflower-infused lemon curd, but first I'll talk about all the wonderful medicinal features of elderflowers!
The flowers can be identified by the cream colour that grow in clusters all over the elder tree, the easiest way to distinguish them for harvesting is on a warm, dry day smell the flowers and the smell is exactly like elderflower cordial. It is traditionally said that the Summer begins from the first bloom of an elderflower and ends at the first sign of the elderberry (which I wrote about last Autumn here!), all parts of the elder tree are traditionally said to be an all-purpose medicine chest. The elderflowers in particular have antiviral properties making them a perfect remedy for colds and flus, as they are also anti-catarrhal, diaphoretic (induces sweating to break a fever), and would be a good solution to hayfever sufferers this time of year also.
Topically, elderflowers can be used as an anti-inflammatory to soothe inflamed eyes, or combined in cosmetics to soothe chapped hands, sunburn and to tone the skin. The easiest way to use elderflower topically would be to make an infusion with the fresh or dried flowers by pouring boiled water over them, leaving to steep and cool then drain and apply as required. You can also drink the hot tea at the first sign of a fever or infection throughout the day or take a standard dose of the tincture up to 3 times a day.
Elderflower Lemon Curd
Pick your elderflowers on a warm, dry day so the quality of the volatile oil and therefore fragrance/taste is best, just gently tug of each cluster of flowers and collect in a basket or brown paper bag (never plastic as it will make the flowers sweat), once home rinse through with a sieve and remove all the chunky stalks, discard the stalks and give the flowers another rinse.
You Will Need:
Freshly picked elderflowers (around 2 handfuls)
2 lemons, zested and juiced
200 g caster sugar
55 g butter
2 eggs + 1 extra egg yolk
1. Melt the sugar, butter, zest and juice of lemons in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
2. Once melted, take off the heat and add the prepared elderflowers. Cover and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours.
3. Strain the mixture through a sieve, squeezing the flowers. Put back on the heat again in a bowl over simmering water and add two beaten eggs, continue whisking occasionally until it thickens. This took around 20 minutes for me but I would advise adding an extra egg yolk if the mixture seems too runny still.
4. Leave to cool and pour into a prepared glass jam jar, label, keep in the fridge and enjoy!
I used mine to top a homemade buttermilk scone or you can spread over fresh bread!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.