Find out what to do with these fragrant, early summer flowers.
I love the delicate elderflowers that explode in hedgerows and country lanes in June - and if you're lucky a few days either side in May and July. For me, their rich sweet scent is synonymous with early summer. It's said that summer starts when elder trees burst into flower and ends in late August when the berries are ripe.
I add a couple of elderflower sprigs when cooking fruit for tarts and desserts, removing them at the end; the lacy blossoms have an unmistakable heady Muscat grape fragrance which has a particular affinity with tart fruits such as rhubarb and gooseberries. They're also delicious dipped into a light batter and fried until crisp. I stir a few flowers into cake and muffin batters to give them a light, sweet scent.
Mrs Beeton advised the beneficial properties of elderflower wine, a liqueur (excellent drizzled over fruit salads) is made from them, and of course they also make a wonderfully refreshing non-alcoholic elderflower cordial - a perfect summer drink.
Elderflower cordial is easy to make with freshly gathered elderflowers, which are infused with lemons, sugar, water and tartaric or citric acid. If you don't have any elderflowers close by, shop-bought cordial is a good substitute and is delicious added to creamy desserts.
The best time to pick elderflowers is on a dry, warm day when the blooms are newly open, well away from traffic fumes. Give them a gentle shake to dislodge any insects and rinse briefly in cold water before using.
Try one of our delicious elderflower recipes...
Prosecco & elderflower cocktail
Gooseberry, elderflower & Sauvignon sorbet
Chicken garden salad with elderflower dressing
Gooseberry & elderflower yogurt ice
Homemade elderflower cordial
Elderflower & raspberry jelly
Elderflower crunch cake
How do you use elderflowers? We'd love to hear your recipe ideas and foraging tips...