For foragers, one of the most welcome spring blossoms are those of the Elderflower, or Vlier (Sambucus). Look out for fragrant, creamy, lacy white splashes on a tall bush, often found along the roadside or in sunny bits of forest.
Elderflower is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is often used to fight colds and flu. And it’s delicious as well, both in drinks and in food. Here are a few recipes:
- The most famous use of elderflower is in a sweet cordial, which is delicious with sparkling water.
- Elderflower champagne is easy and delightful.
- Elderflower fritters are a true delicacy.
- Easiest of all is to pull the blossoms off the flower head and mix them into runny honey. Delicious on toast!
Caution: 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. Note: 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.
And a final word about ethical foraging: remember to take only a few blossoms from different parts of each shrub, leaving enough for the insects as well as the birds that will later feast off the berries.