It's that time of year again !
Elderberries, aka Sambucus or Elder, are now everywhere and if you are really fast (and lucky) you can beat the birds to them and make lots of delicious drinks and food. Over the next few days I will post lots of elderberry recipes for various things, so that we can all make the most of nature's free food.
Elderberries contain huge amounts of vitamin C, and are a very old traditional remedy for colds and viruses in many countries. The old ways are often some of the best ways.
Remember though to never pick all the berries from a bush or an area, as the local birds also rely on the elderberries as a very valuable source of food at this time of year.
Another thing... Try not to pick the berries from alongside a busy road or in a town, as these will be full of toxins and chemicals pumped out from car and lorry exhausts. Disgusting and somewhat poisonous !
So here is the first of my elderberry recipes, and my favourite...
Elderberry & Clove Cordial
Elderberries (removed from stalks - use a fork and comb them off)
1. Pick the elderberries on a dry day. Make sure all insects and mouldy berries are discarded.
2. Stew the berries in a large covered stainless steel saucepan, with just enough water to cover the berries. This will take about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, but keep covered so as not to evaporate the juice.
3. Strain it all through muslin, squeezing to get all the juice out.
4. To each pint of juice add 1 lb of white granulated sugar and 10 cloves.
5. Boil for 10 minutes.
6. Allow the liquid to cool.
7. Bottle the cordial in sterile bottles with good quality plastic screw-on tops, making sure you distribute the cloves evenly amongst the bottles (they act as a preservative). You can use recycled drink bottles and mini wine bottles are brilliant.
The cordial can be used immediately, but will also keep well for a year or two.
Taken with hot water it is renowned as a guard against colds, and a glass a day through winter is a wise precaution...