Their scent, sweet with a fresh citrus tinge, fills the air these days where they grow by the creeks in our valley: they're the creamy-white, delicate flowers of the elder tree (Sambucus Nigra), one of the greatest gifts from the woods. Its roots, leaves, flowers, inner bark and berries can be used in a variety of ways from medicinal to culinary, to gardening and dyeing - as all my fellow foragers in the area well know.
(Note: my favorite reference herbal book in English, which contains information on the elder tree, is Commmon Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette de Bairacli Levy)
This time of year, basket in hand, I walk the woods picking elder flowers, which I steep in water to make a fragrant syrup that's delicious in the summer, drunk with chilled sparkling water or frozen into cooling popsicles for those hot summer days (hello, heat? We're ready and waiting for you!). I've used different recipes over the years, and this latest discovery made one of the best elder flower syrups.
Here it is, the first batch of elder flower & lemon zest syrup of spring 2013.