Elderberry medley

The elderberry, Sambucus nigra, is a very special tree, with lacy umbels of creamy white flowers becoming purple-black berries in the fall. The flowers can be used for making syrups, jam, wines…and the berries as well. Many parts of the tree are medicinal, having been used for centuries to cure colds, infections and skin irritations.


Elderflower sorbet or ice cream

500 ml mineral water

500 g sugar

4 large elderflower umbels

50 ml lemon juice


Bring water and sugar to a boil, then remove from the heat. Either tie the 4 flower umbels together and hang them in the syrup, or else cut all the flowers off of their stems and stir them into the syrup. Allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the flowers from the syrup and add the strained lemon juice.

For the sorbet, allow the cooled syrup to freeze partially, then stir it well with a fork before allowing it to freeze completely (or use an ice-cream maker).

For the elderflower ice cream, whip one egg white with a dash of salt, then whip 200 ml cream. Stir the egg white and cream together, then carefully mix in the syrup. Freeze as above.


Elderflower beignets


10 elderflower umbels

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

milk, fizzy mineral water or beer

dash salt, and cinnamon or cardamom if wished

about 750 ml sunflower oil for deep frying

powdered sugar, honey or lemon curd to serve


Beat the eggs, add flour and baking powder and enough liquid to make a batter about as thick as yogurt. Allow the batter to rest for a ½ hour. Heat the oil in a heavy pan until hot but not smoking. Holding the flower umbels by their stems, dip them into the batter until well coated and place them gently in the hot oil. Do not crowd. Fry until golden, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve right away with plenty of powdered sugar, or with honey or lemon curd– they taste best warm.


Elderflower syrup

500 g elderflowers

2.5 l water

2.5 kg sugar

50 g citric acid crystals


Cook the flowers, water and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the citric acid, stir to dissolve, then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 24 h.

Strain, then return to the pan and heat to boiling. Simmer 20 minutes until the syrup thickens. Pour through a strainer into clean, hot bottles and seal.


A dash of elder syrup in still or fizzy mineral water makes a lovely drink…add a mint leaf to make it extra refreshing. Or add a bit of syrup to a cup of tea to ease flu or cold symptoms-