By: Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, B.A., M.Sc.

Elderberries and elderflowers have been used for millennia in civilizations around the world for their magnificent medicinal properties, as well as for their exquisite taste.1Allen, David E; Hartfield, Gabrielle (2004). Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain and Ireland. Timber Press. pg. 270. 2Pliny the Elder (70 A.D). Natural History. Translation by Holland, Philemon, 1634. 3Lockie, Andrew (2006). Encyclopedia of Homepathy. DK Publishing. New York. Pg. 164. 4Blochwitz, Martin. The Anatomy of the Elder. London: 1677. Accessible in digital form here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A28386.0001.001?view=toc

While some of the uses of both elderberries and elderflowers are in cold and flu-fighting concoctions like fire cider or simple elderflower tea, the berries and flowers both yield delicious recipes.

Iv’ve reviewed several recipes from food blogs and have curated a selection of old-fashioned elderberry and elderflower recipes. I present these 7 heart-warming, traditional elder recipes to you just in time for the cold months.  I haven’t tested them but they look great.  Please click on the link to see each recipe.

We cannot begin to talk about elderberry-based recipes until we mention fire cider. Historically, homemade fire cider is a tasty hot beverage used for generations as a home remedy for the cold and flu. Not only do people think it boosts the immune system, but some also perceive that it also warms them up from the inside out.

The exact history of fire cider is unknown, since different variations have been made in different cultures across the world. In the United States Rosemary Gladstar was the first to coin, in written form the term “fire cider” in the 1970s.4Blochwitz, Martin. The Anatomy of the Elder. London: 1677. Accessible in digital form here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A28386.0001.001?view=toc The term “Fire Cider” was trademarked several years ago but there is a strong movement to keep the term – and the recipes – in the public domain.5“About” (n.d.) . Free Fire Cider. http://freefirecider.com/about/

The link above provides a recipe that makes a concentrated form of fire cider, sort of like a cough syrup. To make it into a tea, you can add a tablespoon to hot water or to the tea of your choice, but you can really feel the immune boost when you add a tablespoon to bone broth.

This is a classic recipe if I ever did see one. This recipe comes from a 17th century medical textbook by Martin Blochwitz that describes the different medical uses and preparations of elderberries and elderflowers for a range of illnesses. It also provides recipes that are just as enjoyable as they are medicinal.

This three-ingredient recipe is all about patience and timing, until the syrup reaches the ideal consistency. Blochwitz names it Mel Sambucinum, meaning elder honey.

This recipe comes from a cookbook published in 1921, republished on the Click Americana website. Just like many old-fashioned recipes, it doesn’t have exact measurements, since recipes were done by memory.

If you are unfamiliar with what a “Betty” is, it requires you to layer thin buttered bread with elderberries and sugar. At the very top, you add more butter and bake until crisp. It’s a delicious mix between a cake and a pie.

This site also has five other elderberry recipes from the 1921 publication.

This classic elderflower fritters recipe was published by Nigel Slater in The Guardian newspaper in 2011. It is similar to a recipe referred to as “elderflower crisps” in the 1921 publication mentioned above. To make these, you pick fresh elderflowers and dip them into a batter before frying them. Here, Slater suggests adding a trickle of warm honey or a gooseberry purée.

Elderflower tea is another classic recipe for a cold and flu home remedy. However, it’s so delicious and relaxing you can enjoy it anytime. You only need three ingredients, and while the recipe recommends starting with fresh elderflowers, you can also purchase dried, organic, elderflowers to make the tea.

Why have lemonade when you could have an elderflower cordial? While this is more of a summer treat, since to the recipe calls for using  young elderflowers, you can also consider using dried elderflowers instead. For a winter pick-me-up, I suggest you try warming up the elderflower cordial in the microwave or over the stove for a few minutes – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

This timeless and traditional pie recipe is one for the history books and your dinner table! Elderberries, while similar to blueberries in some ways, have a unique taste – zestier and tangier. After trying elderberry pie, you’ll never go back to using any other berries. Make this for your family once over the holidays and it will become a long-standing family tradition.

After you try these classic elderberry and elderflower recipes, I’m sure you will start using elder in all its forms for celebrations, relaxation, and even when you need an immune boost. But part of the trick is waiting until the precise part of the season when elderberries turn ripe or clusters of elderflowers have opened.  Otherwise you can used quality dried berries and flowers, if you can get them!  Does your family have any traditional elderflower or elderberry recipes? Please, spread the love and share them here!

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all images are from the original recipe site.

Image of elderberry syrup by The dabblist: https://www.flickr.com/photos/64636759@N07/10846242473

1 Allen, David E; Hartfield, Gabrielle (2004). Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain and Ireland. Timber Press. pg. 270.
2 Pliny the Elder (70 A.D). Natural History. Translation by Holland, Philemon, 1634.
3 Lockie, Andrew (2006). Encyclopedia of Homepathy. DK Publishing. New York. Pg. 164.
4 Blochwitz, Martin. The Anatomy of the Elder. London: 1677. Accessible in digital form here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A28386.0001.001?view=toc
5 “About” (n.d.) . Free Fire Cider. http://freefirecider.com/about/