The majestic Elder has been held in high regard by many people’s for centuries as food and medicine. Most think of the berries but the flowers themselves have many benefits, and unlike the berries you don’t have to be so selective. The flowers can and have been used interchangeably.
Elderflower pollen has natural yeast and is a well known flower for making cordials, champagne, and in the coming days we will be making a batch of Mead!
It’s also delicious as a battered and fried fritter! A recent application I have fallen in love with has been it’s topical uses. The tannins in the flowers knit proteins together, increasing the tone and tightness of the skin. Combine this with their slightly demulcent properties it’s no wonder elderflowers have been an ingredient in skin care products for such a long time. Spring time on the homestead means lots of work and cleaning that is hard on the hands and skin.
I soaked a few strips of cloth in a strong infusion of flowers and left them on my hands for 15-20 minutes. This gave me a good eight hours of hydration and relief, even with continuous work and washings. The next day I did the same and added my honeysuckle salve afterward. This provided more than 24 hours of relief!
Many suggest it’s comparable to witch hazel at causing the contraction of skin cells and other body tissues. With baby number four due in a few months, I will definitely be trying this out during my postpartum recovery so stay tuned!
Unlike over the counter products, elderflower as well as many other herbs, work with the body to fight off infection rather than suppressing the bodies response completely. In the case of allergy relief, a hot infusion works to slightly adjust the inflammation response so that it’s not over expressed. This preparation also helps to open up the pores and promote sweating to break fevers.
Ingesting the infusion cold brings out the diuretic effects, increasing urination and expelling excess fluids. This paired with my dandelion was a HUGE help during the final trimester of my last pregnancy. The cold tea also brings out it’s lesser action of being an alterative. Simply put, it works to gradually restore proper functions of the body, increasing health and vitality. Elderflowers mild taste make them a great addition to children’s remedies and tonics.
When harvesting, I enjoy late mornings after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the day has set in. I simply snip the clusters of blooms leaving behind as much of the stems as possible. It’s such a delicate flower, I simply dehydrate and store for later use, or use it fresh.
General disclaimer: this information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. I am simply sharing how we use this beautiful flower on our homestead and in our daily lives.