Saturday, July 25, 2009
Respect your Elder
From early June through early August we are frequently asked about our Elder tree. It is not a tree really more of a tall shrub but we have pruned it in such a way that it appears like a tree. Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, is a native American herb with a wide variety of uses. Elder flowers are excellent for the skin. We often make a strong tea of the elder blossoms and use them to make a skin cream. Very soothing. Elderberries which we kindly share some with the birds are small but tasty in jellies and jams. The ripe blue black berries grow in clusters so it is easy to gather a bucket full. Rich in Vitamin A and C and a healthy source of minerals you want to eat only the ripe berries as the green ones and the twigs and leaves give a strong bellyache. The ripe berries are also used as a dye for wool, and of course elder wine, and also an organic blue dye stamp for meats. Sister Marj and I were traveling through Germany on a college age budget and were quite hungry early in the evening before any of the kitchens had even opened up. The bar owner kindly went and frittered us an Elder Flower to have as a snack. Later I found the recipe for frittered elder flowers in the good ole Joy of Cooking cookbook. Not only is this plant used medicinally and for culinary purposes but there is a lot of lore associated with this plant. It is said that the Elder-mother lives on the bottom of the plant and protects the wee folk around her. So before harvesting or pruning the elder it is always wise to announce your presence and intentions to the Elder mother. Just a tip. . . .