It’s been a wonderful spring for elderflowers in Berlin, their huge creamy white sprays appearing by the dozen on the simple green trees and shrubs that, until then, nobody had paid any attention to, like this low-growing specimen obscuring some graffiti. They perfumed the air around them, and the food and drinks of anyone who took the time to stop and forage.
The sprays of flowers are as flat and large as an open hand. In Germany, once you start noticing them, you see them everywhere. I spotted them in parks, next to dumpsters, lining the Autobahn and hiding in the forests of Brandenburg. And once you start tasting them, you’ll be glad of their abundance. As Berlin Reified has already reported, we foragers in Berlin have been finding many ways to enjoy their fragrance in our kitchens.
This year, I had the good fortune to go foraging in the country, as well. At our relatives’ summer cottage near the Brandenburg-Mecklenburg border, the woods offered elderflower aplenty to fill our basket, plus yarrow for tea and a daisy for good luck.
We turned the blossoms into three bottles of lemony-floral elderflower syrup, using the recipe I shared last year, so we could bring a bit of the country back to Berlin. We drink the syrup with seltzer or and with ice water. We put it in our very first Hugos, made with cheap domestic bubbly and fresh spearmint, using the Hugo recipe I reported on last year without having a chance to taste it.
But you don’t need a cocktail recipe, or even elderflower syrup, to enjoy the last blossoms on the trees, which are rapidly transforming into the tiny green pips that will become dark elderberries in the fall for making hot drinks for our winter colds. Just find a bottle of champagne and your nearest elderflower tree and combine in a glass:
In just a few minutes, you’ll have the loveliest elderflower wine you could wish for.
There’s still a few blossoms on the city trees, and probably more in the country or farther north, where it’s cooler. So, good luck foraging – and cheers!