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All About Elder

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Elder… An important herb through the ages with multiple uses for fabulous remedies. Our director, Helen and Trainee Instructor, Harry, took out a group of wonderful individuals to Oxclose Woods and Pleasley Park to pick some elder leaves and elderberries. Sinead, Daniel, Joe, and new starter Oliver had a great time learning about elder and the many uses. Elderberries work against cold and flu symptoms, especially relieving coughs. The leaves, as an ointment, are good for sprains and bruises. The group had a go at making their own elder leaf ointment, below is how they did it…

Elder Leaf Ointment: Warm 250ml extra virgin olive oil in a small pan and add a couple of handfuls of chopped elder leaves. Simmer gently until the leaves are crisps, the strain. Return the oil to the pan. Melt 25g beeswax in the oil to the pan. Melt 25g beeswax in the oil, then pour into ointment jars. Leave to cool and set before putting the lids on and labelling. Use for bruises, sprains, and chilblains.

Elder leaf ointment is not the only thing you can make using elder. Below are some more ideas and methods to try out.

Elderberry Syrup: Put ripe elderberries into a large saucepan with half their volume of water. Simmer and stir for twenty minutes. Allow to cool, then squeeze out the juice using a jelly bag or fruit press. Measure the juice and for every 500ml or juice add 250g of sugar, a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves, and a few slices of lemon. Simmer for twenty minutes, then strain and pour while hot into sterilised bottles.

DOSE: Take one teaspoon neat every few hours for cold and flu or use as cordial and boiling water to taste for a hot drink.

Elderflower Tea: This can be made with fresh flowers, but as their season is relatively short, the dried flowers are usually used. Use one heaped teaspoonful of dried elderflowers per cupful of boiling water. Cover and allow to infuse for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and drink hot and frequently for the early stages of a cold or fever to promote sweating. For this, it combines well with equal arts of yarrow and mint. For hay fever, use in combination with nettle leaves.

Elderflower Cordial: Pick 30 heads of elderflower on a dry sunny day, choosing those that smell lemony and fresh. Boil 1kg of sugar in 2L of water for about 5 minutes in a large saucepan. Pour into a large ceramic bowl and add 50g citric acid a chopped lemon and a chopped orange. Add the elderflower heads and stir well. Cover with a clean cloth and leave for four days, stirring every day. Strain through a jelly bag and bottle. For long-term storage, the cordial can be frozen. To drink, dilute to taste with cool sparkling water. It can also be made with hot water to encourage sweating in colds and fevers.

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