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Elderflower hydrosol is a finicking distillation. It takes hours to carefully destem the tiny florets from the umbels, carefully screen for chaff, and relocate any insect residents.  The still tends to heat up more rapidly as the plant matter isn’t dense, so it’s an effort to keep things cool and capture a full profile of all the nuances during the long distillation it requires. I’ve done three batches this year, with elderflowers picked at two friends‘ homes. Powdery & light honeyed notes, green,  slightly anisic, faintly yeasty and earthy elements are all present.  There’s an enormous wild elder, and a burgeoning young colony just above the stream at the far back of my land, where  jewelweed, agrimony, cardinal flower, pawpaws and skunk cabbage grow, for elder likes rich, moist soil and edge habitats. While there’s not enough here to distill yet, there are flowers to dry and later, berries for a small amount of medicine. 
Elder has a distinct feeling about it.. as if your measure of character is being assessed as you approach. This is to do with the elemental beings in nature who caretake and tend elderflower.  The shrub’s  medicine, most often used from the berries and flowers, though the foamy white pith in young twigs also contains healing properties.  Topically the hydrosol has a wonderful toning and brightening effect on the skin. Internally, a teaspoon taken at the sign of a cold or flu can often nip it in the bud. And it’s easy to use, when one is run down and perhaps not feeling up to making tea or a foot bath with the dried flowers, efficacious as these treatments are too.  Although picking apart the flowerheads seems never ending, the reward is in gently handling the frothy, starry flowers that smell of summer dreaming with nature spirits.
Elderflower hydrosol is a finicking distillation. It takes hours to carefully destem the tiny florets from the umbels, carefully screen for chaff, and relocate any insect residents. The still tends to heat up more rapidly as the plant matter isn’t dense, so it’s an effort to keep things cool and capture a full profile of all the nuances during the long distillation it requires. I’ve done three batches this year, with elderflowers picked at two friends‘ homes. Powdery & light honeyed notes, green, slightly anisic, faintly yeasty and earthy elements are all present. There’s an enormous wild elder, and a burgeoning young colony just above the stream at the far back of my land, where jewelweed, agrimony, cardinal flower, pawpaws and skunk cabbage grow, for elder likes rich, moist soil and edge habitats. While there’s not enough here to distill yet, there are flowers to dry and later, berries for a small amount of medicine. Elder has a distinct feeling about it.. as if your measure of character is being assessed as you approach. This is to do with the elemental beings in nature who caretake and tend elderflower. The shrub’s medicine, most often used from the berries and flowers, though the foamy white pith in young twigs also contains healing properties. Topically the hydrosol has a wonderful toning and brightening effect on the skin. Internally, a teaspoon taken at the sign of a cold or flu can often nip it in the bud. And it’s easy to use, when one is run down and perhaps not feeling up to making tea or a foot bath with the dried flowers, efficacious as these treatments are too. Although picking apart the flowerheads seems never ending, the reward is in gently handling the frothy, starry flowers that smell of summer dreaming with nature spirits.