Elderberries have done particularly well this year. Enormous fat bunches of them are hanging off the branches, weighing them down and just begging us to pick them. There are hundreds of them in the hedgerows beside the old Roman fort where I walk each day. When you harvest them, don’t try to pick individual berries, just snap the stalks as you would a bunch of grapes. This also helps avoid your fingers turning that lovely Elderberry blue colour. Oh and if you want to be extra safe, be sure to apologise to the Elder Witch for taking the fruit. Legend has it that bad things happen should you forget…
Medicinal Use: There is now much scientific evidence showing that Elderberries are a great cold and flu remedy and can lessen the effects of the common cold, influenza and even swine flu! Also, they are a rich source of important vitamins and antioxidants and they taste good too!
However, the cordial made from these plump, blue berries is not only a good cold remedy, it also works as well as cranberry juice in protecting against and treating that common female plague, cystitis.
Elderberry Cordial Recipe
Basket of Elderberries
- Pop the Elderberries into the freezer on a tray. When you take them out they will drop off the stalks which is a shortcut to the traditional (and much messier method) which is to use a fork to remove the Elderberries from the stalks.
- Place the Elderberries in a saucepan with enough water to cover them.
- Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the Elderberries are soft and have released their juices.
- Then strain the Elderberry mixture through a muslin or straining bag. If you don’t have one nylon stockings work well (provided they are clean of course!)
- You can squeeze the bag to make sure you get all the juice out or leave to strain overnight.
- Then for each pint of juice add 1lb of granulated sugar and 12 cloves (though if you are not fond of cloves you may omit them or use fewer.)
- Boil the mixture for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Allow the Elderberry mixture to cool, and then bottle in sterilised glass bottles, making sure that the caps have a plastic seal.
- If you wish you can strain off the cloves or add an equal number to each bottle you make up.
- The Cordial will last up to two years, refrigerate after opening.
A bottle of Elderberry Cordial makes a tasty and thoughtful gift for friends or family members with colds or flu.
So what are you waiting for… go and pick some Elderberries, and if you want to prevent winter bugs getting the best of you… get brewing!