My inspiration for picking today spurred from the lovely natural bouquet the new Duchess of Sussex (Megan Markel) carried for her wedding. Her bouquet was simple, white, willowy and looked as if it was picked fresh from her lavish sunken garden. Though some of that assumption is true, I found my bouquet in the forest. Being the middle of spring, these flowers are just now starting to bloom. The Sambucus or Elderberry (Hollunder) is a very inspirational bush. In the time of garden apothecary, (middle ages and later) every “Potager” garden was said to have Sambucus growing in the garden. This is largely in part because birds plant this beautiful bush all throughout the countrysides, but it was believed that if you didn’t have one in your garden, you were not prepared to get through the ailments of winter. This was a life-source plant to the herbal world, and it was used widely in preventing and treating lung infections, bronchitis, as well as keeping the immune system alive and well. The bush offers two options of goodness, first the sweet, aromatic flowers, followed by the small, dark purple berry clusters that form. Both are equally beneficial in treating health ailments and sickness.
I’ve had these blossoms as a fried fritter, in a syrup, or in tea. My intent for today’s pick was to make a lovely, light syrup. The syrup is widely used throughout Europe as a sweetener in water, tea, cereal’s, or on toast. It’s quite simple to make. Just cover the flowers with sugar in a pot, add water, let them soak for a few hours, then cook it down on high heat for a good 10 minutes. The result, is a light, golden nectar.
*A tip for picking: only pick flowers, herbs, etc, in remote locations. Avoid picking where spraying might have occurred, or blown to, and avoid picking on high-traffic areas. Keep your herbs as pure and as close to nature as you can possibly find.