Elderberry (Sambucus) flowers always reminds me of the times when, visiting friends in Austria or staying at Dan’s grandmother’s childhood home in Northern Italy, I have enjoyed glass after glass of elderflower cordial mixed with mineral water. It’s the perfect summer afternoon drink, with a unique flavor. There’s nothing quite like drinking flowers.
We do have elderberry trees here in Portland as well, and although our approaching move has discouraged me from trying to make bottles and bottles of my own elderflower cordial at this point, I was inspired to combine the delicate white blossoms with my favorite breakfast: pancakes.
Following a pre-breakfast elderflower gathering walk in the morning drizzle, I made a normal pancake batter (I use the Joy of Cooking recipe) and added the tiny flowers at about a 50/50 ratio. Note that unless you enjoy tiny little stems in your pancakes (my husband does not), you should either separate the stems from the flowers before you add them into the batter, or alternatively, press an entire flower onto a pancake while it is cooking, and then remove the stems before flipping.
Lastly, a word of warning: while the flowers and cooked berries of Sambucus are edible, most other parts of the plant are poisonous. This includes uncooked berries, branches, twigs and leaves. They contain cyanide-inducing glycosides — something you don’t want in your breakfast. As long as you keep this in mind, go ahead and enjoy the elderflowers in any way you wish.