Elder has been used in cosmetics and herbal medicines since the first century A.D and for centuries has been regarded as a plant that could cure almost anything. The flowers are used in teas to support the immune system and elderflower creams are great for healing skin conditions. In autumn, the berries, which are high in vitamin C are used to help with colds and flus.
However, the birds also really like elderberries and I find it difficult to harvest the berries before the birds do. I tend to harvest the elderflowers in Spring and leave the berries to the birds in autumn. I use the flowers in teas and skin care but mostly I make a really nice Elderflower Syrup which my whole family loves. This syrup with soda water makes a refreshing drink to have in summer (if the syrup lasts that long). It does use a lot of sugar initially, but the syrup is watered down considerably when being used.