The culinary delights of summer are countless and it can be hard to keep up with all the seasonal arrivals. I’ve been finding elderflowers at our local farmers market, the flower of the elderberry which is the dark purple late summer berries that are used in pies, jams or medicinally. For now, we have access to the beautiful white elderflowers, which are also edible, and offer a more gentle medicinal quality. To keep up with the seasons I wanted to celebrate this beautiful flower, this Elderflower Cordial Popsicles with Lemon and Mint is a great summertime treat and offers some well-documented health benefits.
“Elderberries are well recognised for their nutritional and medicinal qualities, but the elderflowers also offer some health contributing qualities and make an amazing elderflower cordial which can be used for popsicles or added to fizzy drinks.”
The elderberry is well known in the realm of herbal medicine and has some quality research backing up its numerous health claims. Clinical research on elderberry shows that some elderberry extracts may reduce flu-like symptoms. During 1999-2000 a study was done on 60 patients who received 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo (1). One preliminary clinical study showed that taking a specific combination of elderberry and Echinacea helped improve the rate of recovery and reduced the rate of influenza-related respiratory complications (2).
It’s not only the berry of the elder tree that has been linked to health benefits. Elderflower tea, when taken daily for 5 days, has been shown to be effective for managing constipation and increasing colonic transit time when combined with anise fruit, fennel fruit and senna flowers (3). My herbal teacher has also graciously taught me to appreciate the energetics of eating flowers.
For this elderflower cordial recipe, I used honey which is always a better alternative to white sugar due to its lower glycemic index and a lesser effect on blood sugar levels. It has been speculated that those that suffer from seasonal allergies would benefit from consuming local unpasteurised honey which contains natural pollen. Exposure to small amounts of local pollen prior to hay fever season may help with symptom relief. One study using a very high dose of honey showed benefit after 8 weeks (4). The same is said for elderflowers, and some herbalists believe a flower infusion to be beneficial for hay fever symptom relief, but only if started prior to pollen appearing. The combination of these two may be worth a try for anyone that suffers from hay fever.
Aside from a flower infusion, another simple medicine can be made by making an elderflower honey. To do this, loosely pack washed elderflowers into a mason jar and pour over your local unpasteurised honey. If the honey doesn’t pour well let it sit in the sun for a few hours to warm it up. Let the elderflower and honey mixture sit in a warm area for at least a week and then strain. I like to let mine sit on my balcony for the summer months. Enjoy this elderflower honey just as you would any other honey!
My favourite way of combining honey and elderflower is making an elderflower cordial. These popsicles use a simple elderflower cordial for which there are plenty of recipes online, though I find that most of them use white sugar. Cordial will stay good in your fridge for months, so feel free to double or triple the recipe and use the additional cordial to add to sparkling water, to make into a syrup for pancakes, or to add to mixed drinks. To round out the flavour I added lots of lemon and fresh garden mint. If you don’t have popsicle moulds at home, try freezing the popsicle mix into ice cube trays for a sweet little treat. For more popsicle recipes try my Zesty Iced Tea Popsicles with Ginger, Breakfast Popsicle with Honey Banana and Oat, or Mango Honey Lassie Popsicle with Ginger and Chia Seeds.
Elderflower Cordial Popsicle with Lemon and Mint
These simple elderflower cordial popsicles combine the health benefits of elderflower and unpasteurised honey. They are a simple, healthy snack that both adults and kids will love. Combining fresh flowers with lemon and mint offers a fresh summer flavour, and a beautiful dish to serve friends. Make a double batch of elderflower cordial and use it to flavour soda water, make into a syrup for pancakes or add to mixed drinks.
For The Cordial
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey unpasteurised
- 1/2 heaped cup elderflowers
- 1 organic lemon zested (then 1/2 juiced, and half thinly sliced)
For The Popsicles
- 1 organic lemon
- 12 mint leaves
- 2 cups water
For The Cordial
To prepare the elderflowers, rinse them in water and let them sit out to dry for 10 to 15 minutes to let any little bugs escape.
Add the water and honey to a small saucepan, and heat until the honey is well incorporated. Don’t let it boil otherwise all the goodness from the honey will be killed off. I like to use a whisk to make sure it is well mixed. Remove from heat and once it has cooled slightly, add the lemon zest, lemon slices from 1/2 the lemon, the juice from the remaining 1/2 lemon, and the elderflowers - stir to combine. Put a lid on the mixture and let sit out of the fridge for 12-24 hours; the longer you leave it the more intense the flavour.
Once the mixture has infused, strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer and collect the liquid in a bowl. Now you have a cordial that can be used just like any other cordial. The remaining lemon slices and flowers can be saved to make into a tea later. I leave mine in a mason jar in the fridge and add it to a tea within the following week.
For The Popsicles
To make the popsicles, slice ½ a lemon into 6 thin slices, save the other half for the next batch of popsicles. Evenly distribute the lemon slices and 6 mint leaves into the 6 popsicle moulds. Mix ½ of the cordial mixture (about 1/2 cup) and 2 cups of water into a bowl. Carefully add this mixture to the popsicle moulds being sure to leave at least ¼” on the top of the moulds for the stick handle to fit in. Let freeze for at least 4 hours.
To remove the popsicles from the moulds, run under warm water for about 5 seconds, they should easily slide out! Use the remaining cordial, ½ lemon sliced and mint leaves to make 6 more popsicles.
You may think it is odd to add fresh lemon and mint slices to a popsicle, but I find that when it comes to eating them the mint crisps up nicely and the lemon slices offer a special tangy bite.
Not elderflower season? Try this with any other edible flower:
Violets taste delicious, try combining these with thyme,
Roses are a beautiful spring and summer flower, try combining these with rosemary.
Nutrition Information for Elderflower Cordial Popsicles with Lemon and Mint
Amount per one of twelve popsicles
Total Fat: 0g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Vitamin C: 2mg
References for Elderflower Cordial
2. Effect of an echinacea-based hot drink versus oseltamivir in Influenza treatment: a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, multicenter, noninferiority clinical trial (2015). Current Therapeutic Research Clinical and Experimental.
3. Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum, Foeniculum vulgare, Sambucus nigra, and Cassia augustifolia for chronic constipation (2010). BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.