T h e E l d e r –
M e d i c i n e C h e s t
o f t h e P e o p l e
The Elderflower always brings back childhood memories for me.
We would collect it in the local village, using it fresh or drying it over our red AGA, filling the house with this most beautiful soothing scent.
I remember as a child having elderflower tea as a diaphoretic (to induce a sweat) if I had a fever. I can still smell it now, in a steaming cup with some other herbs to help ease me out of the flu.
It is also a useful relaxant, for colic, upper respiratory tract congestion and depression.
Every season brings its treasures to us, the elder gifting us with the fragrant flowers, followed by the berries in Autumn.
In the year 800 CE Charlemagne decreed that an Elder be planted in every yard in his realm, to be a “medicine cabinet” for immediate use. How wise these people were.
recipe ~ elderflower delight
to go for a nice walk and find an Elder
Pick 10 generous flower heads, shake out any insects
- 4 flat tbsp of gelatin granules – buy here
- 350g granulated sugar
- 70ml + 150ml + 50ml of water
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 heaped tbsp of cornflour + another 60g
- 1 heaped tbsp of icing sugar
Place the gelatin in a small bowl, add the 70ml of water, stir and leave to bloom for about 15 minutes. It will swell and look a little like frog spawn.
Put the sugar, lemon juice and 150ml of water in to a smallish saucepan and heat gently. Stir from time to time to ensure all the granules have dissolved. Turn off the heat and move aside.
Line a small dish, about 10cm by 10 cm with parchment paper. Sift the icing sugar with the 1 tablespoon of cornflour generously over the base of the dish. Save the rest until later to dust the delight.
Remove most of the stems from the elderflower and place the blossoms in a piece of muslin making a small pouch, and tie with a piece of cotton.
Stir the 60g of cornflour into the 50ml of water making a smooth paste.
Put the sugar syrup back on to a low heat and when warm whisk in the gelatin and cornflour paste. Make sure the gelatin has completely dissolved.
Slowly bring the mix to the boil and pop in your elderflower bag. Simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring all time, squeezing and kneading the bag with whatever you stir with, to release the flavours. I used a whisk which worked quite well.
It will bubble a bit. I simmered it on a low heat.
Then pour the thick, syrupy liquid in to your dish. Scrape the bag so not to waste anything. The whisk was really useful at getting the mixture off the bag.
You want the mix to reach about 1 inch up your dish and if it doesn’t you could use something smaller.
Cool at room temperature and then place in the fridge over night.
In the morning liberally dust a board with the remain cornflour and icing sugar. Peel off the parchment and tip out on to the board. Slice in to about 1 inch cubes, turning the delight over in the powder.