Here we are in mid June. What is in flower down in Zeb’s favourite woods?
The wild garlic has vanished and there are swathes of frothy cow parsley, icecream pink dog roses, sparkly blackberry blooms and the elders are full of ripening heads of fragrant baby stars.
This is the year I finally try to make elderflower cordial. My aunt Barbara, who lives on an island on Lake Mälaren, Sweden, makes this every year by the gallon and supplies all her neighbours and people who visit the one shop on Adelsö get the opportunity to sample it too!
The elderflowers have heads of little tiny star like florets, they look a bit like stelline, and on a warm summer’s day you can follow that glorious fragrance to the source….
It makes sense to only take a few from each shrub or tree as the elderberries that form later are a valuable source of food for birds in the autumn. We asked our local parkkeeper who maintains these woods which belong to the Council if it was all right and he was happy for us to collect some flowers for our personal use. We picked about a carrier bagful in the end.
Avoid picking them where spraying has taken place or near a roadside if you can and make sure you can identify them confidently. These woods are nowhere near farmland and I am pretty confident they haven’t been sprayed. The books say pick on a warm dry day, and choose flowers which have a mixture of not quite open budlets and open flowers.
I have no idea how the commercial stuff is produced, or where the manufacturers source the huge quantities of elderflowers they must need…. Maybe there are armies of elderflower pickers all over the world stripping the woods bare..
More to come….
Click here for Elderflower Cordial Part 2