Elderberry Blossoms


I love to write but I don’t like to write about writing. Writing isn’t a tangible formula that I can easily analyze, but I process that I have to explore in new ways each day. On that note, I do love to read what other writers write about writing. Their advice is like rungs on a ladder and I can choose to climb to the next level, or stand where I am if my processes are still working for me.

There is no one process that works for me. Some days I write in silence. Sometimes I have music on loud. Sometimes I need to be alone, sometimes I need people around me. Sometimes I need coffee and elation; sometimes I need to be worn out, sad even.

Today I’m worn out, sad even. Trying to find a home for my first book is so time consuming and I find I'm channeling all my extra energy into going through the motions. I’m coming to the conclusion that writing the book was the easy part. 

So, what better way is there to clear the head than to go out in the woods and check the elder bushes?

Elder bushes bloom mid-May to early June, depending on the weather. And there’s so much you can do with them. You can make ice tea, jelly, liquor, a sparkling drink and a tempura-like batter-fried snack. No metal should touch the blossoms. Break them off with your fingers and don’t use a metal pot to store them in. Carefully take the hard stems off and just use the umbrella-like tops. Let’s look at some of my favorites:

Elder Blossom Liquor:
Take two bottles of clear spirits (either Korn or Absolut) and three or four generous handfuls of elder blossoms (I don’t wash them because all the lovely pollen washes away. I just shake the bugs off!) Maybe a half-cup sugar for taste. Honey could be substituted for sugar; it just turns the liquor brown. Put all the ingredients in a large ceramic pot, so that the blossoms are completely covered with liquid, cover with a lid and store in a cool dark place for about six weeks, stirring about once a week.

Elder Blossom Syrup--can be added to cold drinks, cocktails and sparkling dry white wine:
This is a recipe that must definitely be adjusted to suit personal tastes. I like things that taste less-sweet and more-flowery, so I always use more blossoms and less sugar.  A basic starting point would be a liter of water and 500 grams of sugar. Some add  lemon or lemon peel. I don’t. Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and let it dissolve. Allow the water to cool down a bit and add the blossoms, maybe 15-25 depending on your taste. I personally remove the syrup from the metal pot and put it in a ceramic something-or-other. Cover and allow to stand for one to three days. I keep tasting it to make sure it’s not poisonous. That's a joke. Fill clean dry bottles with the syrup. It doesn’t keep all that long. I put it in the fridge. I bet this would be great with the Absolut Absinthe when it’s done!

Of course, the blossoms can be dried in the oven at a very low temperature. The tea can be used to alleviate the symptoms of the flu and other respiratory difficulties. But only the blossoms and later in the summer, the black berries, should be ingested. The leaves, twigs, seeds and roots contain cyanogenic glycoside, like in peach and apple seeds.

Do you have any other ideas for me?

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