Grandmother Elder, you have sooo much to teach us! This is one of the most magical plants, in great abundance, to us all. Found throughout Topanga Canyon, this is the large shrub/small tree loaded with white blossoms right now. We have the Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) here, and its uses are many. I’ll have many more posts, which will include more about its use as food, medicine, music and utility. Below is a photo of the flowers, also notice the compound leaf to the left. Harvest just behind where all the stems of the flower umbrel come together. That way they stay together and can be used as a handle when dipping, frying and eating. I also dry large quantities of these flowers to make into tea during flu season. Use one teaspoon of dried flowers to one and one half cups of boiling water. Let steep at least 10 minutes, covered, strain out the flowers and add honey and lemon if so desired. Drink once per day, for first 3-5 days of cold or flu.
We had a fun group of people for the wild food workshop here in Topanga Canyon on Saturday. We went out and identified and harvested many plants availabe right now. We then prepared a feast of acorn black walnut bread, california sagebrush chicken, MN hand-harvested wild rice, South River Dandelion Leek Miso with ice plant, sow thistle greens/buds/flowers, calendula flowers, mallow leaves and cheeses, wild mustard flowertops, and wild arugula. We also made teas of sticky monkey flower and blackberry tops. Our final menu item was elderblow/elderflower fritters. I made a very simple tempura batter, so that people could taste the full flavor of the flowers.
1 c cold water
1 c flour
oil for frying
Beat egg, then add cold water. Slowly add flour and mix until no lumps remain. Hold the flower stems as a handle and dip flowerheads into batter. Put into hot oil and cook until they just begin to turn golden. Enjoy hot!