The multifaceted elderflower flavor

The multifaceted elderflower flavor

Lifestyle

Elderflower: a royal taste of spring

Kensington Palace announced that the lemon elderflower cake to be served at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding would incorporate "the bright flavors of spring". Fans of the elderflower aroma describe it as like "drinking lace," — a fitting flavor for a royal wedding. The centerpiece will be covered buttercream and decorated fresh flowers including Markle's favorite, peonies.

Lifestyle

A spring harvest: May to July

Elderflower has a strong Victorian heritage though it is not exclusively British. The European Elder, Sambucus nigra, can be found as far as Siberia and north west Africa. Another variety grows in North America, the Sambuca canadiensis. Both varieties flower in May form in umbel-shaped bunches of tiny white flowers that by the end of summer develop into drooping bunches of purple black berries.

Lifestyle

A European all-rounder

Elderflower, Holunderblüte, has place in Germany's heart not only due to its many culinary uses but also its wide-use in natural medicine. From fizzy drinks to herbal tinctures, Germans put the plant to good use. In Sweden, it's made into a summer drink called the Fläderblomsaft. In Romania there is a Fanta Shokata, an electric blue elderflower twist on the iconic orange soda.

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A plant that keeps close company with people

Out and about, the Elder likes open spaces. You can see it growing on the side of the road even in major cities. It keenly crops up on the side of paddocks, in forest margins and in abandoned gardens, farms and industrial areas. It thrives in open, sunny spots. The flowers' panicle form creates striking disc-shaped clusters as the stems grow to a flat, plate-like surface.

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A honeysuckle treasure of spring

The sweet blossoms are harvested to be made in syrup to flavor drinks and dried for fragrant teas served all year round. The have a pale creamy palette owing to white petals and yellow pollen which gives them their distinctive scent. Often the heady fragrance from flowering bushes can be smelled from meters away. Not all love it, but it is a clear signal: Summer is on the way!

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Naughty and nice: a floral product for every indulgence

Perhaps the most famous elderflower concoction is the cordial. It is produced by gently cooking the flowers with lemon and sugar to mix for a sweet and refreshing summer drink. However the fun does not stop there. The flowers can be used to make a low-alcohol champagne, sometimes called "pregnancy prosecco" and used to flavor stronger alcohols like liquor and wine.

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Meet the sexy Hugo

Restaurants across Germany, Switzerland and Austria rush to offer guests the aperitif Hugo when temperatures raise. Enjoyed as an alternative to Aperol spritz, a Hugo is mixed from prosecco, elderflower syrup, mineral water and garnished with mint and lime. While the Hugo is said to have originated in South Tyrol, you can't blame the Germans for trying to claim this elegant cocktail as their own.

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Mother nature's medicine chest

Modern herbalists still consider the elder among the most generous plants. Its use can be traced back to the Stone Age. For thousands of years, it has been prescribed in therapies for a wide range of ailments including respiratory conditions and fever. Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the so-called father of medicine, had already documented its uses.

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Spirits, spooks and the Brothers Grimm

The elder has a rich history in the folklore of Britain and Europe. For centuries, the shrub was grown at the back door to ward of evil spirits. The name elder is thought to derive from the anglo-saxon word "Aeld," meaning fire. Its other names, like Holler, Hylderand and the German Holunder refer to a mythic pagan woman who featured in a Grimm Brothers tale, Frau Holle.

Lifestyle

A tree that keeps giving: berries in the fall

Be careful not to pick all the flowers! In late summer vitamin-rich elderberries grow. These fruits play a large role in European cuisine. The elderberry is not just used for flavor but also to lend its deep, rich purple color to dishes. While it may be tempting to pick and eat these jublent berries, it is best to take them home to cook them, as they can cause stomach upsets when eaten raw.

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Berry of not, here they come

The slightly tart flavor of the berries turns into a favorite once cooked. This is because elderberries are often prepared with sweeter more robust berries and fruits in pies and desserts, though they also stand alone well in jams and chutneys. In Germany, a traditional elderberry soup is served as a chilled dessert. Elderberry syrup can also deliciously be drizzled onto pancakes.

The aroma will star for the first time for a royal wedding cake, but the flowers of the elderberry tree have been used for ages in Germany and Europe.

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