Ready for harvest-Lemon balm and Elderflower

lemon balm
Lemon balm is abundant at the moment and looking at its prime for collection. Its timing is impeccable as many of its uses are well suited to this time of the year.

This has got to be one of my favourite teas, it has a lovely lemony flavour which is often agreeable to children. This herb has a wonderful relaxing effect and lets face it at this time of the year we certainly some of that! It has an anti-histamine effect which is also called for at the moment. Another important action is its use as an anti-viral, assisting the body to clear viral attacks, great for cold-sore sufferers, both drunk as a tea or applied externally, this is also useful in cases of shingles or chickenpox.

It has a high content of volatile oils which are damaged easily if over handled. when collecting choose the lush tops before flowering and cut gently, handling as little as possible hang in loose bunches to dry in airy, shady spot. It is even better just to pick fresh if you have a good supply. Be generous when making a cup of tea, loosely filling the vessel you will be brewing in, then pour over boiling water and cover immediately, thus keeping those precious volatile oils in. Leave for 10-15 minutes, strain and enjoy.
Drink 1 cup up to three times daily.

elderflower head

Elderflowers are calling out to me wherever I drive at the moment. As soon as I get the opportunity I will be making some elderflower cordial and maybe some elderflower champagne. Bottles of these make wonderful Christmas presents.

Elderflower cordial

20 Elderflower heads
4 cups caster sugar
1.5L boiling water
2 lemons (juiced and sliced)
1 orange (sliced or chopped)
50g citric acid (optional makes it more tart and will act as preservative).

Wash the flowers to remove bugs and spiderwebs! There are the smallest black bugs on these, particularly later in the season. Elderflower are best picked after there has been sunlight on them for a couple of hours – and the cordial best made within an hour of picking the flowers.

Put the sugar in a heatproof large bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir until dissolved, then add lemons, orange, citric acid and flowers. Leave for 24hrs in a cool spot, covered. Stir occasionally. Strain through a muslin and bottle. Refrigerate.

 

Be well, happy and relaxed, naturally,

Ali