The holidays are her and the celebrating spirt demands aromas, tastes, and flavors out of the ordinary and our daily lives! A plant that can offer ‘something special’ on our holiday table is Elderberry or Sambucus nigra.
The plant is very famous in Greece as well as globally not only for its benefits to our health but for its unique aroma, which made it popular in beverages. Sambucus or saboukos in Greek, was used from ancient times by Greeks, Egyptians, Native Americans, and other civilizations to treat infection and heal burns.
Today, modern science has verified the healing substances of its flower with the power to treat cold and flu symptoms or other respiratory problems. Saboukos is native almost everywhere and you can find it hidden in the forest. But its berries are poisonous! Only the flowers can be consumed! And you can consume them in many ways, like raw in salads, dried as a tea, or as a beverage by adding lemon, a sweetener, and soda.
The popularity of this plant created a huge demand in the food industry and nowadays you can find ready-to-use drinks and syrups of the plant. If you prefer a homemade saboukos drink to impress your guests, make a ‘virgin champagne’ from saboukos, a non-alcoholic welcome drink offered before the meal! For 1 Litre of beverage (around 7 small wine glasses) you will need: 2 glasses of trimmed dry flowers of saboukos, 1 litre of water, 3 soup spoons of flower honey, 3 large lemons organic without wax coating (you will need the juice and the peeling), and 500 mL of soda water.
First, boil the water and put in the flowers and the lemon peeling. Stir well and remove it from fire, covered with a towel (to keep the aromas inside). Leave it for 10 minutes and then pour in the honey and lemon juice. When it is cold, strain it and put it in the fridge. You can keep it for 24 hours.
Before serving, mix it with soda. You can put a slice of lemon and fresh mint leaves in each glass. Be careful do not boil the flowers, because all the fruity and grassy volatiles will spread throughout the room, not into your drink! Lovely healthy drink for your guests!
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.