Family: Honeysuckle Family Habitat: Along fields and hedges, in gardens, on the roadside, and on waste ground. Season: Flowers - early Summer (mid June - early July) Fruit - late Summer (late August - early September)
Harvesting notes: Leaves, twigs, and unripe fruits contain toxic levels of cyanogenic glycosides and should not be ingested. Ripe berries should be cooked before consuming. Flowers are edible raw. Fruits develop from the flowers so only take a few flower heads if you want to harvest the fruits. The tree seems to respond well to harvesting.
Culinary notes: Elderflower is a symbol of summertime in Scandinavia and the UK. It is used widely in cordials, sorbets, ice creams, alcoholic drinks, custards, koldskål (a Danish buttermilk dessert) and more. Their isn't the same celebration of the flowers here in Upstate New York, which is not all that surprising because the flowers of Sambucus canadensis are not nearly as powerful and potent as the variety in the UK and Scandinavia, Sambucus nigra. The berries are really where it is at. These incredibly medicinal fruits are worth celebrating. They are know for their immune boosting properties. It is best to remove the berries from the branches and the simmer the fruits for about an hours and then strain the cooked juice from the seeds and skin, or cook fruits into jam or jelly, or pie or cake filling. They can be used in savory or sweet applications.