The Elderflower comes from the Sambucus plant, more widely known as the Black Elder. In Europe the Black Elder has gained notoriety as a medicinal plant. Although the stems and leaves are poisonous, the berries and flowers are used for a wide range of ailments. Due to its popularity the Elder is widely present in European folklore. JK Rolling incorporated this in the final Book of the Harry Potter Series in which the Elder Wand plays a pivotal role. The species of Black Elder we cultivate is called Sambucus Canadensis, and is native to eastern North-America. Because it is so closely related to the European plant it can be used in the same manner.
The Elderflower has various health benefits due to its antioxidant properties and antiviral effects. Even though it is often used for its fruity flavour in European cuisine, it has found a following in natural medicine, especially for children, for whom conventional medicines can be too strong. Other than being a great immune system booster, which is very helpful in our high stress lifestyles, it greatly eases cold and flu symptoms. Annoying allergy symptoms can be remedied with Elderflower products and those of us that suffer from chronic sinusitis may find temporary relief through the use of Elderflower tea. In our largely inactive and oftentimes unhealthy lifestyle, Elderflower has the added benefit of being a great diuretic and containing quercetin, which is an active ingredient in lowering cholesterol. Those better versed in making their own tinctures, can use it topically to help with joint pains and other arthritis related symptoms. Because of the wide range of effects the Elderflower has, a medical professional needs to be consulted before using it while on other medications.
Elderflower buds are best picked in the mornings when pollens are strongest. The goal is to contain as much of the pollen on flower as possible, preferably in the absence of wind. Since the leaves, roots, and stems are toxic, only the flower buds are desired. The first step is cutting the bush, hoarding them together, cutting away all the greenery in the shade, and finally distributing the buds on drying racks. It is not lethal if a bit of green stems are in the batch.
The elderflower buds are laid on portable wooden drying racks for three to five days, depending on the weather and the season. It is preferred to air-dry the buds in the shade on warmer days, and to sun-dry on colder days. The drying racks are always moved around in coordination with the weather since UV rays can damage the final quality of the flower.
After the drying process is completed, the dried Elderflower buds are gently crushed and the remaining green matter is filtered out, resulting in crusty flowers with pollen. The flowers are then dried in bowls for a last time to ensure that the remaining moisture evaporates. A quality control check assures that no foreign materials is in the Elderflowers before it is packed. The final product is sealed in a plastic bag and then packed in a paper bag, ready to be enjoyed by the consumer.
It is said that Mother Earth lives in the Eldertree trunk,
cutting the magical wood would invite evil spirits to their house.
Elderflower tea is medicinal and therefore needs to be used with caution. The naturally sweet tea can be enjoyed with or without sugar or honey, depending on your preference. For each cup of tea 1tlbsp is needed. It is important to note that hot, not boiling, water should be used to brew the tea. To get the best results steep the tea for 5 minutes, strain and enjoy while still hot.
Especially during cold seasons dried Elderflowers can be added to bath water or to make a heat compress. Elderflowers have diaphoretic effects, increasing blood flow and sweating, which is great for colds and flues.
The Elderflower syrup is better known for its singularly zesty flavor. It is a very refreshing beverage, perfect for hot summer days. For best results the syrup should be diluted, at the ratio of 1:6, in sparkling or still water. In Central Europe it is often added to champagne instead of orange juice.
Stillwater Estate is located in the heart of Swartland (the breadbasket of Western Cape, South Africa), where a family-owned Alpaca-Farm is producing a multitude of Alpaca products. Holunder previously had no brand name, but was produced as Holunderblütensyrup to German speaking friends and family. As the demand grew for dried tea, Christopher Georg Tatzreither took the initiative to produce healthy Elderflower Tea which are now available in several smaller shops. All Elderflower/Elderberry plants have personally been cared for. No pesticides are used, and only organic fertilizer is used to grow our plants. A new section on the farm has been created with a water-saving drip system, whose yields will increase in the years to come.