Hardly any other medicinal plant has such a long tradition as the elderflower. He has played a role in medicine for thousands of years. Long forgotten, it is now popular again and recaptures its way back into the kitchens and pharmacist’s cupboard. And rightly so, because not only are delicious juices, soups, jams and pastries prepared from elderberry, but elderberry also has a great healing power for various diseases. Its high-quality ingredients make it so special.
Where do elders find them?
Elderberry belongs to the goat leaf plants. In Germany, three species occur: the black elderflower,the red elderberry and the dwarf elderberry. Above all, however, it is the black elderberry that can be found here and which is meant when it comes to medicinal plants and food.
Elderberry is found in Europe, Western Siberia, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. It can be found especially in feral places but also on the field or on fences. Elderberry is a fast-growing shrub that can reach a depth of up to five metres. In May it produces flowers that are very small and yellowish-white. They are arranged to umbels and exude a very intense fragrance. Between August and September, the black-violet berries ripen.
A little caution should be exercised with green plant parts, because in these parts sambunigrin is to be found, a substance from which hydrogen cyanide is also made. Under heat, however, it is destroyed.
Looking at history for the elder
Elderberry is not a discovery of our time. As early as 460 BC Hippocrates used the dark berries and praised their healing power. Hippocrates even called the elder “medicine cupboard” because it can also be used preventively for many ailments. Theophrastus of Eresus, Dioskurides and Pliny the Elder were also convinced of the healing effect of the elder.
Among the Celts and Germans, the elder was always considered a sacred tree. It was not without reason that elder trees stood close to the house, as they were intended to protect the inhabitants from damage. Therefore it was also frowned upon to cut or even cut the elderberry, because so the good house spirits were expelled.
Hildegard von Bingen was not convinced of the elderberry due to theological reservations, but later recognized the advantages of the berries for sweat baths and other treatments. Paracelsus has made a special use of the elder, because he studied his toxins and their effects. Maria Treben appreciated and used the elder. The physician Blockwich translated Latin writings on the topic of elderberry and thus proved the effectiveness of the berries and roots in more than 70 diseases. Kneipp completes the round of famous doctors and healers and gave the elder many good qualities.
Elderberry – a sacred shrub
Elder has many names. Actually, we always talk about the Black Elder when it comes to healing power. In the Nordic, the shrub is also known as the lilac berry bush. The Austrians know him as Holler and the Swiss as Holder. But also Ellhorn, Huskolder or Kelkenbusch are names for the elderberry. The Latin name of the elder is sambucus and probably goes back to a harp-like instrument from ancient Greece, the Sambuche, which was made from the Holunder’s Holt. The word eldercomes from the Old High German word Holuntar. It is composed of Holun, which means hollow, sacred, gracious and tar for shrub, tree.
References to the elder are already to be found in the Bible. Thus the cradle of the Child Jesus is said to have been made from the wood of an elderberry. The cross of Christ was also made of elder.
Hardly any other shrub was as revered as the elder. The Celts revered him as a sacred tree that embodies the infinity of life. In the Druid calendar, the elderberry is the 13th yearly tree. It closes the year and stands for death and rebirth. And finally, the Germanic goddess Freya has a special relationship with the elder and lived in the same.
Elderberry – what makes the shrub so special?
The special feature of the elderberry lies, of course, in its ingredients. The flowers, berries, leaves and bark are used, but also the roots. However, the roots are rarely used today. The berries are particularly rich in vitamin C,vitamin Sa and B. Interesting for medicine are also the flavonoids,the tannins and tannic acids. For this purpose, the small black berries provide minerals such as calcium and potassium. Elderberry contains anti-inflammatory essential oils and heart-strengthening glycosode. On top of that, polyphenols and anthocyanins protect the immune cells and make them strong against viruses and pathogens.
Ingredients with 100 g elderberries:
- Nutritional value: 51 kcal
- Potassium: 290 mg
- Calcium: 5 mg
- Magnesium: 35 mg
- Iron: 1.8 mg
- Phosphal: 50 mg
- Zinc: 0.2 mg
- Beta-carotene: 350 micrograms
- Vitamin E 1.0 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.03 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.06 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.09 mg
- Folic acid: 6 micrograms
- Vitamin C: 25 mg
Elderberry – Superfood for the Immune System
Why wander into the distance when the superfood is growing on your doorstep. Elderberry is a tried and tested remedy. Elderberry is anti-inflammatory, diuretic, mucous and sweaty. But also properties such as stimulating, blood-cleansing, blood-quenching, antispasmodic and fungal killing are attributed to the elderberry. The fields of application range from angina pectoris to cellulitis.
Elderly strengthens the immune system
Elderberry makes the immune system fit. The high content of vitamin C as well as the content of zinc,iron and flavonoids optimally pep the immune system. But also the essential oils and bitter substances strengthen the defenses and do not allow colds to develop or more easily tolerate.
Elder in case of cold
A true thousand-sassa is elderberry for colds. Once upon a time, it was common place to cook a hot elder soup on a cold. Zinc and vitamin C quickly put an end to the bacteria and skilfully repel them. A hot elderflower tea can also help by loosening the mucus and being sweaty. This sweats bacteria out. On top of that, elderflower lowers the fever and soothes the mucous membranes. Elderflower syrup is therefore ideal for a sore throat.
Elder in case of stress
The beguiling scent of elderflower is a feast for the senses. And this in the truest sense of the word, because the fragrance helps with stress. A relaxing elderflower bath makes it easy to fall asleep. For this purpose, two to three hands of dried elderflower are poured with a litre of hot water and added to the bathtub after a short pull.
Elder for cystitis
Elderberry is helpful for cystitis,because a tea from the flowers has a dehydrating effect. In the case of cystitis, about three cups of tea from elderflowers are drunk daily. The germs are washed out with it.
Elderberry for the skin
Elderberry can also be applied externally. In ointments and tinctures as well as as tea, its anti-inflammatory ingredients can be used. An elderflower helps with insect bites, skin inflammation and itching. Elderberry can be used even with cellulitis. In addition to ointments, tinctures can also be applied from the flowers, which are used as facial water.
Elderberry – what side effects can occur?
In principle, there are no side effects when eating elderberry. However, it is a natural productto which some people may be allergic. Caution should also be exercised when eating immature and ripe elderberries, which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. No side effects are known in the flowers.
How to use elderflower
A lot can come out of elderberry. Whether as tea, tincture, ointment or juice, the high-quality ingredient of the elderberry always comes to the fore. Whereas in the past all parts of the shrub were used, today the flowers in May and the ripe berries between mid-August and the end of September are used.
Use elderflowers in ointments and teas
The flowers of the elderberry taste particularly delicious as elderberry syrup. However, they can also be dried and then make the elderflower tea. And the flowers can also be used in tinctures. For this purpose, elderflower flowers are placed in 40 percent alcohol and placed in a warm place for at least six weeks. The elderflower tincture has a detoxifying effect and stimulates the immune system. With regular receipts, the tincture is intended to provide relief for allergy sufferers during the hay fever season. And even with a cold, the elderflower tincture does a good job.
Elderflower tincture can also be used without alcohol. The flowers of the elderflower are then placed in vinegar or a brine.
For an ointment, an oil extract is made from elderflower. For this purpose, either the fresh elderflower flowers are added to oil for six weeks or a warm extract is made. If there are no fresh flowers, dried flowers can also be used. The oil extract is then solidified with beeswax or – as a vegan variant – berry wax.
Elderflower compressesare suitable for cleaning the facial skin. For this purpose, fresh elderflowers are simply poured with hot water. The whole thing has to last 15 minutes. A cotton cloth is then soaked in the infusion and placed on the face for ten minutes. This opens the pores, reduces skin inflammation and prepares the skin for a mask.
Since the etheric oils of the elderberry also have a positive effect on the psyche, a herbal pillow with elderflower is of great advantage. The dried flowers are sewn into a piece of cotton fabric and act as aromatherapy. The flowers help with sleep disturbances, stress and pain.
Elderberries for juice and syrup
Elderberries are the basis for many dishes, but also juice and syrup. The juice contains a lot of vitamin C and is well suited for colds due to its anti-inflammatory effect. To extract the juice, a juicer can be used. The ripe, black-violet berries can also be filled into a pot. For one kilo of berries, 250 ml of water are added. Everything is cooked for about 20 minutes, so the berries are soft. Now the mass is cast and pressed by a fine cotton cloth. 100 grams of sugar are added per kilo of elderberries. The juice is heated again and bottled. Elderberry juice is a wonderful home remedy for colds.
Elderberry for bees and birds
Of course, the elderdoes are not only of high value to humans. The flowers and berries also attract insects and birds and are an important food source. Different butterfly species feed as caterpillars only on the wood and the leaves of the elderberry. For natural gardens, the elderberry is therefore absolutely part of the inventory.
Elderin in the kitchen
From the flowers and berries of the elderberry you can also conjure up delicious dishes. Jams, juices, syrups, soups and much more enrich the menu and are a great regional superfood.
Elderberry in every form ensures an extraordinary taste experience. Here, different flavour nuances are combined, ranging from fine-thigh to slightly sour. There is also a slightly bitter taste, but it can change to a sweet aftertaste.
Probably the most famous is the elderflower soup, which our grandmother cooked when the cold season had begun. Slightly thickened with a flour sweat and tasted with lemon and sugar, the elderberry soup is a real treat, especially on cold days.
Also super tasty are jams and jams made from elderberry. These can also be supplemented with other fruits. Pears, plums and raspberries are very good for elderberry. Also a pleasure are jelly made from elderberry or liqueurs.
The flowers of the elderberry shrubs are mainly used to make tea and syrup. The flower cones can also be baked in the beer dough. Very refreshing is a fermented juice from the Holler flowers.
Of course, there are still endless recipes from the flowers and berries of elderberry.
Elderflower syrup can be used in many ways. It is suitable for making a fresh, fruity lemonade for summer but also for squirting sparkling wine.
- 25 St. Elderflower Dolls
- 1 untreated lemon
- 1 untreated orange
- 1 kg sugar
- 25 g citric acid
- 1 litre of water
Lemon and orange are washed as hot as possible and sliced.
One litre of water, citric acid and sugar is boiled.
The elderflowers are carefully washed (do not wash under running water). Then drain the flowers. Flowers, lemons and oranges are layered in a clean vessel.
Now the sugar water is poured over it. Everything stays closed at room temperature for three days. From time to time it is stirred in between.
After three days, everything is poured through a fine sieve or mull cloth. The juice is re-boiled and immediately hot bottled and tightly sealed.
The syrup lasts for about a year in dark and cool storage.
The Saxon elderflower soup
Eldersoup has already been prepared by our grandmothers during the cold season, because the hot soup not only warms through, but can also relieve the cold.
Ingredients for 2 people:
- 3/4 litre elderberry juice
- 1/4 litre water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 carnations
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 packet of vanilla pudding powder
- 4 tbsp sugar
- per person 2 slices of biscuits
Put the water in a saucepan with the elderberry juice. Cinnamon stick, carnations and vanilla pod are added. A spice bag is optimal, so that the spices can be easily removed later.
Now the pudding powder is mixed with the sugar and slowly stirred into the soup. Nothing should clump. The soup is boiled briefly. It should not cook too long so that the pudding powder does not make the soup too thick.
The spices are now taken out and the soup is prepared and served with the biscuit.
Elderberry – a shrub between death and rebirth
Like many other plants, the elderberry is a very mystical and spiritual shrub. In legends, myths and stories, the shrub has many good and strange qualities.
In all the centuries and millennia, the elder was always a sacred treethat embodies infinity. In winter he was dead and in the spring the shrub awoke to new life – death and rebirth in a shrub.
The Germans buried their dead close to the house under the elder. They also worshipped the shrub and offered the shrub a gift in the form of milk, bread and sometimes beer.
The similarity of the name Elder with the mother goddess Holda from Germanic mythologyHolda was revered as a house goddess and means as much as the radiant. She is the patron saint of plants and people – like elderflower. Cutting the elder bush was forbidden. Those who did had to reckon with illness and death. Only widows and children were allowed to cut down the bush after asking him for forgiveness.
Elderberry was often planted to protect against evil spirits. In the shrub itself, good house spirits should live and protect the house-dwellers. An ancient faith says that it will be a good sign when a planted branch of an elderbegins begins to sprout on a grave. It shows that the deceased has found peace.
By the way, the custom of pulling the hat in awe of an elder in front of an elder is still customary in some areas today.
But not all customs and myths speak for the good in the elder. The elder has a tremendous magical power. If you want to connect to the shadow world, you have to burn wood, bark and leaves of the black elderberry. At night there is also a lively coming and going under an elder, because dark beings from the shadow world who have escaped from there are led back by the elder. Since the elder guards the threshold to the underworld, one should of course not sleep under the shrub.