Thursday, August 11, 2011

Foraging and Canning: An Ode to the Elderflower and a Giveaway

I’ve had elderflower on the brain for a few weeks now.  I really can’t explain it, but it appears I’m not the only one with elderflower on the brain.  I re-read this thread on the Chicagoland Food Lover’s chat site LTH Forum.  But I also found out that even Martha Stewart has elderflower front and center.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to go gather elderflowers.  Fortunately, in the middle of farmland for some trout stalking in Wisconsin with my husband I saw it everywhere.  The flowers that you are supposed to pick, have a light perfume that reminds me of honeysuckle,without being cloying.
There was only one major problem; it was surrounded by a poisonous invasive species known as wild parsnip.  This made me leery of foraging because there was no question, wherever the prettiest blossoms of elderflower were, it would be almost impossible to pluck them without touching wild parsnip.

Unlike poison ivy or oak, wild parsnip dares you to look at it.  It’s pretty.  If you touch it and are subsequently exposed to sunlight, your skin won’t itch at all.  You will not get a rash.  Instead you get blisters as if your skin had been boiled.  I didn’t get any on me while I harvested, but my husband did while he was bushwhacking to get to streams for trout spotting.

Once we got home I shook each and every one of my blossoms to remove any bugs; both bees and ants are a good sign when harvesting,because you know you’ve got sweet blossoms.  Into a large bowl of water  went my blossoms for cold steeping, before being made into elderflower cordial.

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