To help celebrate the six week Elderflower harvest, Belvoir has enlisted the skills of Chef Valentine Warner, to bring you some great Elderflower recipes
The elder (Sambucus nigra) occurs naturally all over Britain. However, it is traditionally a hedgerow plant and as the hedgerows themselves are in decline so naturally occurring elders are in decline too.
To help raise awareness of the plight of the British hedgerow and wild flower meadows, Belvoir has forged a partnership with Plantlife, the charity that works to protect Britain’s wild plants and to improve understanding of the vital role they play in everyone’s lives.
Belvoir has committed to donating 10p to Plantlife for every person who signs up to the Belvoir newsletter.
The great Elder
As well as being the plant to trumpet the arrival of summer, the Elder is steeped in mystery and superstition. The Elder was thought of as a protective tree, and growing it outside your door was believed to keep evil spirits from entering the house.
Flutes made of Elder were used to summon spirits and Elder was also the common wood of wands. Washing her face in dew gathered from elderflowers was believed to enhance and preserve a woman’s youthful beauty. It is, however, the Elder’s medicinal properties that truly impress.
Every part of the Elder – bark, leaves, flowers and berries – have been used in domestic medicine since the days of Hippocrates and the plant has been called Nature’s Medicine Chest. It is said the great physician Boerhaave never passed an Elder without raising his hat, so great an opinion had he of its curative properties.
The Mrs. Beeton of herbalists, Mrs. Grieve, recommended an elderflower infusion as a “good old fashioned remedy for colds and throat trouble.” It is also reputed to combat hay fever, and is a remedy that the MD of Belvoir Cordials swears by.
Sambucus do need space to grow and plants in cultivation are most likely to be found in large gardens, but whether in cultivation or growing in the wild, the creamy white flowers of the Common Elder herald the start of our Biritish summer.
Valentine Warner Elderflower recipes
This year to help celebrate the six week Elderflower harvest, Belvoir has enlisted the skills of Valentine Warner, the chef known for his love of seasonal ingredients and in particular his ability to forage for them, to raise the profile of this quintessentially British plant that has so much to offer.
Valentine has devised two truly delicious recipes featuring Elderflower cordial; Elderflower & Gooseberry Jelly and Elderflower Cream Shortbread Tartlets – perfect for that other great British institution of afternoon tea.
True to his passion, Valentine has also provided a recipe for Elderflower cordial itself, using freshly picked Elderflowers. Whilst relatively easy to make, it does need to stand for 24 hours and requires a large quantity of fresh Elderflowers. These can be great fun to pick but with only a short six week harvesting window – you have to be quick!
Valentine Warner says: “The Elderflower is a fabulously versatile plant but one that tends to be sadly overlooked. It is readily available in the wild but often people don’t know what it is and certainly don’t realise what an amazing addition to recipes elderflower can be.
The beautiful white blossoms can add a distinctive flavour to sweet dishes that just talk to the tongue of balmy summer days. Personally, I also think that elderflower makes one of the most refreshing and delicious drinks.”
No surprise that Pev Manners, MD of Belvoir Fruit Farms completely agrees, however he would recommend you save yourself the time and effort of making elderflower cordial and buy the best elderflower cordial on the market instead! Belvoir Elderflower cordial is still made to his mother’s original recipe cooked up in her kitchen more than 25 years ago.“The secret of a really good elderflower cordial,” says Pev “is to use masses of flowers that have been picked in the sunshine when they are warm and heavy with yellow pollen, then get them into the vat within three hours. It is this freshness that gives Belvoir’s cordial its intense bouquet.”
Valentine concurs: “Belvoir’s Elderflower drinks are made with immense care and attention to detail. You can really taste the love that has been lavished on them from the first to the last drop. Their Elderflower pressé, served with fresh mint, is a delectable soft drink alternative for a summer party or wedding, while the cordial is delicious simply chilled with still or sparkling water or makes a refreshing addition to white wine spritzers, champagne or a gin and tonic.”
Why not experience the taste sensation that is elderflower for yourself? Here is how Valentine Warner has made use of this quintessential, British drink to add some extra zing to two classic sweets together with a recipe for elderflower cordial itself:
Belvoir Fruit Farms – Naturally delicious Cordials, Pressés and Fruit Crushes made with no preservatives or additives in Lincolnshire.
Plantlife – Speaking up for the nation’s wild plants.
Valentine Warner – A chef known for his love of seasonal ingredients.