How to make tasty elder shortbread

Learn a new way of using the elder to tree to make something delicious with this elder shortbread recipe.

Elder shortbread. © Jason Ingram

Elder trees Sambucus nigra are common across Europe as well as much of the US and Canada. It can be found growing in parks and gardens, at the edge of forests and in hedgerows.

Elderflower foraging © Michael Moeller/EyeEm/Getty.
Elderflower foraging © Michael Moeller/EyeEm/Getty.

The flowers and berries of the elder tree grow in an umbrella like pattern and both can be used to make edible treats. The berries contain cyanide so must be cooked before they can be eaten. They can be used to make jams, baked good and elderflower cordial.

The small white flowers of the elder are in bloom around mid-May to June and have a sweet fragrance.


You Will Need

  • Fresh elderflowers (2tbsp)
  • Butter (100g)
  • Granulated sugar (50g)
  • All-purpose flour (150g)

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Meanwhile, remove the flowers from their stems making sure to take away as much of the stem as you can.

Elderflowers © Judith Haeusler/Getty.
Elderflowers © Judith Haeusler/Getty.

Step 2

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Use your fingers to rub everything together until they become like breadcrumbs, then add the elderflowers and roughly mix everything together.

Butter, flour and sugar © Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst/Getty.
Butter, flour and sugar © Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst/Getty.

Step 3

Push the crumbs mix together with your hands so it forms a dough, then push this down into a greased baking tin and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

thumbnail_Elder SHORTBREAD

David Hamilton is an avid forager, horticulturist and magazine journalist, writing for titles such as the Guardian, BBC Gardener’s World, BBC Countryfile and Grow Your Own. He is also the author of numerous books, including the Wild Ruins series of travel books and the Self-Sufficient-ish Bible. He began teaching foraging courses in 2007 after years of experimenting with wild foods.

This is a recipe from Family Foraging, published by White Lion Publishing.

Dave Hamilton


Main image: jumping jack wraps. © Jason Ingram