June signals one major event in my foraging year…Elderflowers! These creamy white umbels of sweet and fragrant flowers grow on Elder trees and later in the year will transform into earthy Elderberries. For now though, the flowers are out and can be used to add flavour and aroma to both drinks and desserts. If you have never had Elderflowers before, they’re intensely fragrant and pair well with sugar and citrusy flavours.
One of the best ways to start off any Elderflower concoction though is to infuse the flowers to and make a cordial. A cordial is essentially a sweet syrup that is commonly diluted in water, juice, and alcohol to make a summery floral drink. It can also be used to flavour cakes, icings, puddings, and other sweet recipes.
First off you have to find your Elderflowers. Growing wild across Europe and North America, there is only one other flower that looks similar so foraging them is fairly safe. Saying that, I myself have made the error in picking Rowan flowers instead of Elder in years past and can only say that you’ll know for sure that the flowers you pick are truly the ones you’re after if they smell like Elderflowers. Rowan flowers are harmless but they don’t have the beautiful aroma and flavour that you’re after. The image above shows Elderflowers growing on the tree so you can also have a look at the leaves.