Cook-Speak-Learn with Mira: SUMMER IN THE BOTTLE

Fragrant and refreshing, elderflower cordial is easy to make and a great excuse for a long spring walk collecting the flowers in the country.


The elderflower season is quite short, late May or mid-June if you live in the north. 

The heavily scented flowers make a wonderful refreshing drink which will keep for months.  

Mix with sparkling water to create elderflower pressé, or add to wine or champagne to start a party in style. 


Read on to learn how to capture summer in a bottle :)

and much more!


5 x 1 and 2 x 10


10 elderflower umbels 

1 litre water

1 lemon

1 day to steep at room temperature

After straining through a muslin-lined fine sieve add:

1 kilo sugar

1 teaspoon citric acid 

10 minutes to boil 




The elder (Sambucus) is an ancient hedgerow plant, native to Britain, and many other European countries. 

It holds an important place in European folklore, often associated with the 3 M: myths, mystery and magic. 


> Most popular among pagan traditions is the myth of the Elder Mother, a spirit who inhabits the Elder tree. Many country folk would not cut or burn the wood for fear of upsetting her.

> The elder was thought of as a protective tree – it was believed to keep evil spirits from entering the house if grown outside the door. Elders were also said to protect people from lightening when they sheltered under them from a storm, because legend has it that Christ’s cross was made from elder wood.

> And if you want to see fairies, all you need to do is stand under an elder tree on Midsummer’s Eve, but be careful not to fall asleep, because they’ll carry you off!






Elders are believed to have medicinal properties too, and every part of the plant – bark, leaves, flowers and berries – have been used in domestic medicine since the days of Hippocrates. 'The father of medicine' described this plant as his 'medical chest' because it seemed to cure a wide variety of ailments.


ELDERFLOWER has been used in traditional medicine all over the world in many different cultures due to its: 

* antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties - the most common uses are for colds and flu, sinus infections, and other respiratory disturbances.

* diuretic and laxative properties - helpful in relieving occasional constipation.

* antibacterial and antiviral properties - it may help alleviate some allergies and boost the functioning of the immune system.


 Topically, elderflower might help reduce pain and swelling in joints due to some forms of arthritis and is used to stop bleeding. As an oral rinse, elderflower can be used for its antiseptic properties as a mouthwash and gargle. Elderflower also reduces blood sugar levels, very similar to the way insulin works.


More about the healing properties of elder here.


While elderflower is typically found to be safe for consumption, the leaves, twigs, and roots are toxic and can lead to the build up of poisonous cyanide in the body. All but the black elderberries are toxic when eaten raw, so should be cooked prior to use. However, even the black variety should be cooked prior to use due to the risk of nausea and other gastrointestinal complaints.


Photos © Mira Vernay and Pixabay