With ongoing research into herbs and spices as potential natural sources of antioxidants, elderflower has also been investigated. Initial research shows that elderflowers have a high phenolic content – which is one type of anti-oxidant, but there is no published clinical research in humans to confirm how this would improve their health. Many herbalists are interested in another potential attribute of the elderflower, and that is its use as an anti-bacterial agent.
The elderflower plant has various species, but the most commonly used has white flowers (see pic) and small berries. The twigs are thought to be toxic and not to be consumed. Elderflowers are predominantly found in Europe and do not grow traditionally in South Africa. For many years across central Europe, a cordial has been made by steeping the subtly fragrant elderflower heads in a concentrated sugar solution and then serving this diluted with either water or sparkling water, tonic, soda or gin.
Recently, some other ice/frappe styled drinks including elderflower and pear (see pic) or elderflower martinis have become popular and have also been spotted on local menus. An elderflower cordial can be great to add a slight twinkle to your sparkling water. Otherwise, you can combine the cordial with ice and other fruit to make a frappe for those hot afternoons we are all looking forward to. Elderflower ice cubes can also be fun for a social get together – and you can even add the small blossoms to the cordial-ice blocks to add something original to your drinks.
Another refreshing elderflower ‘treat’ (because of the added sugar) option for summer, is a smoothie
Elderflower and pear smoothie
4 small firm pears, peeled & cored (can also use tinned if needed)
2 tbsp Elderflower cordial (can buy online from liquid concepts)
1 strip lemon zest
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
200ml skim milk
- Place pears, elderflowers cordial, lemon zest, sugar & water in a saucepan, cover tightly and simmer until the pears are very soft, allow to cool.
- Discard the elderflowers (or cordial) & lemon zest and process the pears, cooking liquid & milk in a blender until smooth.