These beautiful bubbly elderflower drinks, are ideal for a summer day drink. Unique mostly to England, many people enjoy elderflower cordial or fizzy drinks, while playing croquet on the lawn.
It’s best to leave harvesting elderflowers to experts, as the plants contain cyanide (toxic to humans and dogs). Avoid elderflower for autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus). Also best to avoid for pregnancy/nursing.
For everyone else, it’s a unique flowery drink, that has a sweet taste. The only thing to compare would perhaps be the outer coating of those perfumed sugared almonds. Many people drink elderflower cordial with fizzy water, instead of spritzers. Belvoir Fruit Farms say to take care if standing under an elder tree on Midsummer’s Eve. A fairy may carry you off!
Dalston’s Soda is a natural soda company that offers an elderflower soda, along with other flavours (cherry and rhubarb). This is not too sweet, and uses wild-harvested elderflowers from near the Welsh border. By blending the drinks with real fruit, there is no need to add artificial sweeteners. Sold in cans for easy recycling, the boxes are made from cardboard, not plastic.
Whole Earth Sparkling Elderflower (in cans) is often found in farm shops and indie health stores. A real taste of summer, while waiting your turn to play croquet.
Cawston Press offers a nice elderflower lemonade. Sold in tins, find it in local farm shops and indie health stores.
Fentimans (Northumberland) makes a nice glass bottle of elderflower water, and a rose & elderflower version too. Ideal alone or with your favourite artisan gin. It’s fermented for 7 days, for full flavour. Also in a lightly sparkling version sweetened with stevia for less calories.
What is an Elderflower?
Elderflower tonic is often sold in farm shops, but surprisingly not much place else. Elder trees are very common in England, so it makes a great soda from local ingredients. The tree has fragrant flowers and dark fruit. The name is believed to be from the word ‘aeld’, which is Anglo-Savon for ‘fire’, as people would blow air into the centre of a fire, using the hollow stems as bellows.
The wood is used for crafting and the foliage is also used, although the leave and berries are mildly toxic. But the berries are very popular in wine, tonic water, soda and cooking, and also make good jam and even clothes dyes. Wildlife adores elder trees, especially dormice and bank voles that both love the berries and flowers. Moth caterpillars also adore this tree.
There is a legend that planting an elder tree near to your house, would keep the devil away! It is also called the Judas tree, as Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus for silver coins) is said to have hanged himself from an elder tree.