elderflower time

Guest Post for Manna by Laura Porter



I love the idea of creating meals from foraging and harvesting nature but I’m far too much of an Urbanite to want to hang out in fields too often. But I heard a rumour that it was elderflower season, and I like St. Germain elderflower liqueur, so felt the need to try and find these flowers.

I searched Google images but most photos showed close-ups so I was none the wiser on what the bush/tree looked like. The only tip I’d been given was it smells like cat’s wee or bananas.

I read it can be found by canals and railway lines and as I have both nearby I decided to drag a friend and the kids along with me so we could make a day of it even if we never found any elderflower. 

Ironically, the first thing we saw as we walked down to the canal (Regent’s Canal, if you’re interested) was a huge elderflower bush. We filled bags then found more. And more. It was confirmed by the cat’s wee smell but it wasn’t too offensive, I promise. So yes, June is most certainly elderflower season.


I decided to make Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Champagne and used the recipes here.


My extra tips would be:

  • Take plastic carrier bags with you when collecting the flowers and tie them up before bringing into your home.
  • Don’t pour boiling water over the elderflower as it gets burnt and smells bad. Let the water cool, then add the flowers.
  • Hold onto empty water/drinks bottles so you have somewhere to decant your elderflower drink when ready. (I had to buy lots of bottles of water just for the bottles.)

Neither my cordial or Champagne is ready to drink yet but the Champagne is bottled and distributed to friends and the cordial will be bottled in a few days. I plan to freeze some as I hear it’s good at Christmas.

Do let us know if you’ve felt inspired to try making some elderflower drink too.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel website and you can follow her on twitter too at @AboutLondon.