Elderberry elixir for good health and fighting winter colds
Few plants across the UK are as steeped in tradition and folk lore as much as Elder (Sambucus Nigra) Its hollow stem was said to have been used by Prometheus to bring fire to man from the gods and It is referred to as a whole medicine chest in one plant. The sweet smelling delicate flowers are a wonderful fever remedy and delicious in drinks or deserts. The berries work against flu and cold and help relieve coughs. The leaves, as an ointment are good for bruises.
I love the tart taste of elder berries and make all manor of things from them in the Autumn when they ripen to their beautiful rich colour.
In my early days a foraging and learning about the elder and that you can eat the berries i made a blackberry and elder berry smoothie which was delicious but little did i know the berries need to be cooked before eaten or they have great purging effects! needless to say i spent the rest of the morning with my head in the toilet!
My more recent uses of elderberries have included elderberry wine which is one of the best wines ive made with its rich colour and depth. Elderberry syrup also has many uses for deserts, with hot water as a drink, it can be used as a glaze or jus for game meets or even in icecream. So if you get the chance and happen to find an elder ladened with berries make the most of them as they taste great and are great in the kitchen.
I have included here a recipe for elderberry syrup which is great as a winter tonic and immune booster.
Pick bunches of ripe elderberries and make sure all the stalks are removed before putting the berries into a pot with half the volume of water then simmer and stir for twenty minutes. Allow to cool , then squeeze out the juice using a jelly bag or fruit press.
Measure the juice out for every 500ml of juice add 250g of muscovado sugar, a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves and a few slices of lemon. simmer for 20 minutes then strain and poor into a sterilized bottle.
Take one teaspoon neat every few hours for colds and flu or use as a cordial or hot drink with boiling water.