We thought we'd share this Enfield Food Festival blog with you from Kim Walker & Vicky Chown as they have some great uses for the elderflower including a gorgeous cordial recipe for you to try.
Kim and Vicky are both trained medical herbalists who run the herbal educational company ‘Handmade Apothecary’. Kim originally trained in Animal Management at Capel Manor College in Enfield and has fond memories of a sunny summer learning to manage horses and sheep at Forty Hall Farm. It was here that she discovered a love for plants and went on to study herbal medicine. She now provides foraging walks, talks and workshops on medicinal and edible herbs.
Kim & Vicky have also just published their best-selling herbal book ‘The Handmade Apothecary’ and will be joining us at the Festival on Bank Holiday Monday, 28th August to talk about the abundance of wild herbs found around Forty Hall Farm and their many wonderful uses and will be selling signed copies of their brilliant book too.
As a pre- festival teaser, we asked Vicky and Kim to share a couple of herbal remedies you can make from the common hedgerow shrub, elder (Sambucus nigra) which is in blossom now...
The first of May signalled the official start of summer, but did you know that in folklore summer was marked by the opening of the first elderflower all the way until the last elderberry?
The elderflowers are just about opening and their luxurious creamy scent is recognisable from the popular drink many remember from their childhood. The elder tree has several old medicinal uses and was once such a popular medicine that a 17th Century German herbal dedicated to the elder contained hundreds of recipes. Unfortunately many of them are to do with purging the body by compelling the patient to vomit and are not recommended now! However, a few folk remedies have remained popular and effective and it has been used as:
· An insect repellent (the pungent crushed leaves applied to the skin),
· For helping hay fever symptoms (drink an infusion of the flowers mixed with nettle leaf),
· As a remedy for treating sore throats, coughs, colds and ‘flu (the elderflower or elderberry syrup)
· A facewash to even out skin tone (use a cooled infusion of the flowers)
· A delicious summertime cordial.
Here's a recipe taken from our new book for you to try at home:
This delicious cordial epitomises summer. Use in refreshing cold drinks or add to hot water to make a warming brew for winter ills.
- · 1kg unrefined sugar (caster or granulated)
- · 20 heads of fresh elderflowers (or enough to fill a large colander)
- · 30g citric acid
- · finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
Pour 1.5 litres water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil again, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until thickened to a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat.
Remove the flowers from their stems with a fork, then add the flowers, citric acid, lemon zest and juice to the sugar syrup and stir to combine. Transfer the mix to a large jar or glass bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Leave for 1 day, stirring once or twice.
Strain the mix through a muslin lined sieve into a bowl, and then pour into sterilised bottles, seal, label and date.
To use: Mix 1 part cordial to 3–4 parts still or sparkling water. In the winter, try it with hot water. SHELF LIFE Keep (unopened) in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 2 weeks. Alternatively, freeze the cordial in ice cube trays or plastic bottles for up to 1 year (defrost before serving). Recipe taken from ‘The Handmade Apothecary’ 2017, Kyle Books