If you didn’t pick all your elder blossom in spring, now is the time to get out there quick and start gathering. Elderberry has been known for hundreds of years as nature’s medicine cabinet, and in the Middle Ages it was even regarded as a holy tree for its medicinal properties, but over the last few decades we seem to have forgotten about it.
Apart from being delicious (especially when it has been sweetened a bit), usually for free and very easy to gather and pick, Elderberry is full to the brim with free radical fighting anti-oxidants, in fact it’s ORAC score (or oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is double that of super food blueberries. This means that eating them should help to reduce the risk of cancer and should strengthen your immune system. In fact, the anti-oxidants in elderberries help protect mucous membranes and reduce any inflammation in them. Studies show that people who use elderberry cold and flu symptoms were alleviated four days quicker than those who didn’t.
If that hasn’t sold it to you, you can also use this tasty syrup as you would any other shop brought syrup, but I like to give it to my children as a cough syrup, or mix it with hot water to make a home made (and of course elderberry flavoured) version of a lemsip.
To make the syrup you will need several clean sterilised small glass bottles.
Firstly, carefully wash and prepare your elderberries. To remove your elderberries from their stalks, just run a fork over them, using a bowl to catch all the berries as they bounce off.
Take one cup of elderberries and place in a pan with three cups water. (Don’t worry too much about the measurements, just keep the ratios right) add a couple of whole cloves and a small piece of grated ginger.
Bring it to the boil and then turn the heat down so it can simmer for roughly half an hour or so. During this time, mash it a few times with a potato masher so that all that lovely goodness gets out of the berries.
When the time is up, take of the heat and then strain it.
Add a cup of honey (preferably raw). Stir it in properly so that it is really dissolved and then pour the syrup, which will get more syrupy as it cools, into your prepared sterilised bottles.
Keep in the fridge for around three months, or until those first bugs start circulating!