Whether when in flower or as spherical fruits, black elder umbrels are best harvested with a pair of scissors by cutting them off right at the bottom of the stalk. Before using them in the kitchen, remove the brown flowers and shake off any insects. Elderflower cordial, which is easy to make from elder flowers, concentrated lemon juice and sugar, is a particularly popular sweet drink. The fruit, on the other hand, should only be eaten if ripe and cooked. You can then turn it into lovely juices, jelly, jam, ice cream and sauces with a special sweet and herby aroma.
Elder has also played an important role in medicine for centuries. In your garden, an elder, which is easy to look after, sits well among free-growing hedges. Here, it will provide valuable shade for compost - and it doesn't mind being given a good prune.