It's July. Red, white and blue time for those of us in the United States. What's more independence day oriented than elderflowers and currants? Ok, so that's a stretch, but they are all ripe and ready for the picking in Wayne County right now, so it seemed appropriate. Plus they are neat plants! Here's why:
Elderberry flowers or Elderflowers--sambucus--elderflower umbels are large clusters of white or cream-colored little flowers. They look a little bit like fireworks or lace or a dainty little umbrella. The best know use of these tiny white petals is probably elderflower cordial. This syrup can be used to create elderflower lemonade, spritzer or any number of inspired (and delicious!) cocktails. In Italy, Germany, and Austria, the umbels of the elderberry are batter coated and fried...a unique, sweet dessert. Elderberries have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Think immune boosters for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Rumor has it elderberry is also helpful for lowering cholesterol, improving vision, and improving heart health.
Black Currants--these purple-black fruits art tart! They have a very distinct fruity flavor. They can be eaten raw, but are generally made into jams, jellies and syrups or cooked into a variety of sweet or savory dishes. They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Red currants are slightly tarter than black currants. Red currants are more likely to be served raw than black currants. However, they are often jamed, jellied and cooked as well.