The full moon in Scorpio is also known as the Flower Moon as it occurs during Taurus season, a time when so much is in bloom. This is one of my all time favourite moons of the entire year and one that I always make time to celebrate in some way. This year the full Flower Moon occurs on Saturday May 18th 2019, which means it is a long weekend here in BC and many of you will be out camping. Sleeping in the forest under the light of this full moon will definitely be a treat but if getting away camping is not possible for you this weekend I wanted to share some flower magic recipes for you to play with.
Flowers offer us very specific energetic medicine and are particularly supportive to the mind and heart, and there are many ways to access this medicine. Simply bringing cut flowers in to our home spaces can offer us the medicine of colour and beauty and it never ceases to amaze me how a bouquet of flowers can shift the energy in a room and offer delight for days. Another way is to work with flowers in your herbal medicine preparations. I grow and gather many flowers from May through to September each year and preserve them in different ways. Some of my favourite flowers for medicinal use are dandelion, wild rose, hawthorn, calendula, yarrow, chamomile, wood betony, anise hyssop flower, goldenrod, and elderflower. Each year I will dry a number of these flowers for winter use while preserving the rest in infused vinegars, honey and oils, cordial blends, oxymel’s, and tinctures. I also like use fresh edible flowers in my salads, in infused waters, and in floral sugars to sprinkle on summer berries.
I’m sharing four different recipes here, recipes which feature elderflower and lilac. If these flowers do not grow near you or their season has already passed in your area you can substitute wild rose. I hope you enjoy these recipes and can find some time to play with flowers under the light of this very special full moon.
Elderflower Cordial Two Ways
The scent of elderflower in the air is a sure sign of true spring where I live and as soon as the red elder trees (sambucus racemosa) near me start to bloom I get busy gathering flowers. Their bloom is short and you want to gather the flowers when they are fresh and coated in the pale yellow yeasty pollen that provides so much scent and flavour. If you are unsure how to identify elder take some time to learn which varieties grow in your area, get yourself a good plant ID book and start searching. Some of my favourite plant allies took me years to find and identify and that is part of the fun.
Elderflower Cordial (alcohol-free)
This is a water-based preparation that is absolutely delicious and perfectly captures the scent and flavour of spring elderflower blossoms. It is also easy to make, all you need is elderflower blossoms, lemons, honey and water. I have never made it with dried elderflowers as I prefer to consider it a seasonal treat, only available for a short time each year, but if you do not have access to fresh elder blooms then you can use dried flowers. It may not be as fragrant, but is should work as long as you have good quality dried flowers. Because it is a water-based preparation it will not keep indefinitely, but the addition of honey and citric acid does help with preservation and you will likely drink it all up before it spoils because it tastes so darn good.
- fill a one-liter jar 3/4 full with fresh elderflowers (stems removed)
- add the zest and juice of 3 lemons and 1 large orange to the jar
- add 1 TBS citric acid
- add 3/4 cup of honey (or more to taste)
- cover with boiling water, stir well, cover and let sit for 24 hours
- strain off liquid, pour into a clean bottle, label, refrigerate and enjoy!
It is really that simple to make and tastes delicious added to fizzy water or as an addition to a summer cocktail. It also tastes great as popsicles, simply pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
Elderflower Cordial (the boozy kind)
The term cordial means different things to different people and to some it means a sweet liqueur, something you might sip on after dinner as a treat. This recipe is for that kind of cordial and because it is an alcohol-based preparation it has a longer shelf life than the water-based cordial, which means you can enjoy the taste of spring elderflowers through every season of the year. This recipe makes a cordial that is reminiscent of St Germain, the artisanal French elderflower liqueur. But you can make it for a fraction of the cost as long as you can get your hands on some fresh elder blooms. Again, if you can’t get them fresh, go ahead and try it with dried flowers.
- fill a 500 ml jar 3/4 full with fresh elder flower (stems removed)
- add 2-3 TBS honey
- cover flowers completely with vodka, seal well, and let steep for 2 weeks, shaking daily
- after two weeks add two lemon slices to the top of the jar and top up with vodka if needed
- let steep for at least one more week, shaking daily, you can taste it to decide when you think it’s ready
- strain off, pour into a clean bottle, label and enjoy
This type of cordial is shelf stable and if it is stored out of direct sunlight will keep indefinitely. You can drink it straight as an after dinner treat – in small glasses! – add it to soda water or use it in your cocktail mixes. It also makes a wonderful gift.
Lilac & Amethyst Water
If you have a large lilac bush in your yard this is a really simple flower water recipe to make. Flower waters are simply cold water infusions and they are very refreshing on a hot day. They are also lovely to serve for special occasions. To make lilac water all you need is fresh blossoms and water.
Note: lilac flowers are often covered in small bugs so I recommend cutting your flowers a few hours before you intend to work with them and allowing the bugs to depart by leaving the flowers in a cool place (preferably outside). Once you have processed the flowers by removing them from their stems allow them to sit for another hour (as more bugs will crawl off the flowers) and then use the clean flowers in your recipes.
- fill a one-liter jar 2/3 full with fresh lilac blossoms (stems removed)
- fill the jar with water
- add a couple of pieces of amethyst if you want a flower and gem essence water or feel free to add other fresh herbs such as lemon balm or mint
- cover the jar and put it in the fridge for 24 hours
- strain your lilac water and serve over ice with more fresh lilac blossoms lemon to garnish
Lilacs are delicate flowers that do not maintain their flavour when cooked and so must be preserved without heat and in their raw form. Sugar does this very well. I love to make flower sugars in the summertime and give them away as gifts. Flower sugars can be used in baking or to sweeten teas, but my favourite way to use flower sugars is to sprinkle them onto fresh cream and berries. Last summer I ate berries and cream every day for a month- and I put flower sugar on every single bowl!
- mix together one cup of lilac blossoms and one cup of berry sugar
- let sit for 24 hours, stirring every once in a while- this allows the sugar to be infused with floral scent
- after 24 hours grind the sugar and flowers together in a food processor until well combined. The sugar will be moist from the flowers and should be a pale lavender colour.
- lay your sugar out in a baking dish for a further 24 hours and stir every once in a while to break up the clumps and reduce moisture
- once your sugar is dry stir it once more and seal in a clean dry jar
I hope that you will try one of these recipes so you can imbibe some flower medicine this weekend and no matter how you choose to celebrate the full Flower Moon I promise you the feeling of magic will be in the air. For more flower medicine articles on my blog you can check out Flower Magic: Making Your Own Flower Essences, and Rose Moon: Imbibing Summer.