How to forage for elderflower and what to make with it

Wild garlic season is coming to an end so, if you’re looking for something new to forage on your walks, it’s the turn of elderflower. 

Elderflower is typically found from early May to late June – depending on where you’re living in the country. But it can sometimes have a second resurgence in autumn, in selected places. 

The good news is that there are so many delicious treats that can be made with the pretty little white flowers – from cordials and infused champagne to ice cream and desserts. 

But before you go armed with secateurs on your next walk, be sure to hear what experts have to say about foraging elderflower – as well as tips and recipes on what to make with it. 

How to forage for elderflower

‘Picking elderflower is actually an art,’ explains forager Alysia Vasey.

‘First off you must not pick all the elderflower off one tree, or entirely off one side – it tends to ruin it for next year’s flowering.

‘The other thing is to only pick elderflower on cloudy or rainy days. This is because the elderflower is beloved by the pollen beetle, a hard shiny backed beetle that is about as big as a pin head and they abound in their millions.’

Alysia stresses that these bugs love nothing more than the whiteness of the elderflower.

She adds: ‘They only proliferate in bright sunshine, hence pick on a cloudy day when there aren’t so many around.’

In terms of actually hunting elderflower down, you’re likely to find it dotted along hedgerows all across the UK and you’ll also find it in London’s parks. 

Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones, from Wild by Tart, add: ‘Avoid picking the flowers from a busy road as they’ll be polluted with fumes and make sure you don’t strip a tree bare, leave plenty to develop into berries and to be enjoyed by local wildlife.

‘Take a pair of secateurs, we like using needle nose fruit pruners, which are small and sharp and fit nicely in your pocket and snip just below the main stem belonging to the head of flowers. Take a basket or a bag with you to carry your find.’

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