Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Elderflower cordial

Posted on by royvickery |

Sainsbury’s Magazine of May 2019 contains an interview with Peverel Manners, managing director of Belvoir (Leicestershire) Fruit Farms, best known for their production of elderflower (Sambucus nigra) cordial.  Apparently production started in 1984 when his mother asked his father to help making her home-made cordial.  He was curious about why she was making so much: ‘Well, so-and-so wants a bottle, and so-and-so wants three bottles  … Everyone loves it.’  They made 1,000 bottles, all of which were sold by Christmas.  Today more than two million bottles are sold each year.

About 80 acres of elder trees are cultivated, but local collectors also supply flowers:  ‘As soon as they appear, we put out an alert for local people to bring us elderflowers; we set up vans at four places, with a flag and a cash tin, and reimburse them for whatever they bring.  We have a lot of people who pick flowers every year for us; they love it.’

Elders are difficult to cultivate: they don’t like growing near other trees of the same species, and are woodland or hedgerow plants which are unhappy when planted in fields.

Images: upper, elder blossom,  Bakewell, Derbyshire, May 2019; bottle label, 1997.

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