Posts Tagged ‘elderberries’

Healthful Elderberries

Certain flavors, like scents, can simply transport you. Sipping a glass of golden Sekt sparkling wine spurred memories of my childhood gathering elderblossoms with my grandmother on an early summer morning . . . . sitting next to my grandfather while eating a plate of warm elderflower pancakes . . . . cutting clusters of shiny, black-purple elderberries in early autumn to make jams and syrups for the winter.
 
Elderberry bushes herald the arrival of summer with clusters of lacy, white flowers. The umbels of tiny fragrant petals produce a subtle but unmistakable scent. By early fall the shrubs are covered with heavy clusters of nutritious berries. Elderberries are indigenous to broad stretches of Northern Hemisphere, from North America, Europe and Asia, and into North Africa along the Mediterranean Coast. The species native to North America is Sambucus canadensis; its European relative is Sambucus nigra. Although both have served as medicine for centuries, you’ll find elder’s flavor reason enough to make delicious treats with its berries and blossoms.
 
All parts of the elder plant – roots, flowers, leaves and bark – can be used medicinally. The berries are exceptionally rich in vitamin C and the flowers contain flavonoids and rutin. I still collect blossoms and berries from the wild to make medicine and culinary delights.
 
To make elderflower Sekt, a German sparkling wine, you will first need to make elderflower syrup. Collect the blossoms in early summer. You’ll need enough to fill a two-quart jar. You will also need:
• 2 lemons, washed and sliced
• 4 1⁄8 cups water
• 5½ cups sugar
• 1 packet (5 grams) citric acid

Stuff flowers and lemon slices into a large glass container with a lid. You should have enough flowers to almost fill the jar. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring water to a boil, then add sugar and boil several minutes. Remove pan from heat, let cool; stir in citric acid. Pour this syrup over flowers and lemon slices. Close jar and let it sit in a sunny spot for two or three days. Remove flowers and lemon slices, but first squeeze out their flavored syrup. Bottle the syrup in clean glass jars with tight lids. Store in refrigerator.
 
For a delicious elixir any time of the year, add 2 tablespoons of this syrup to a champagne glass, then fill with Sekt or champagne. For a refreshing non-alcoholic drink, pour several spoonfuls of the syrup (to taste) into a tall glass and fill with sparkling water. During the cold days of winter, I sip my own elderblossom Sekt, warmed by the memories of gathering the flowers and fruit on sunny summer and early autumn days.

Post by Shawn Prummer

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