I think its no coincidence that in Autumn the hedgerows are laden with fruits either high in Vitamin C such as rose hips or have anti-viral properties like elderberry. Elderberries and rose hips are old school DIY perfect timing for the cold and flu season.
There are so many great recipes to be found online. I have made a number of versions, including an Elderberry Rob by Sarah from a Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife.
- When foraging avoid plants growing alongside roads with heavy traffic, or fields which have been sprayed. I went for a short wander into the countryside yesterday and a couple of the fields, and surrounding hedges were covered in what looked like lime powder. Some of my favourite elderberry trees can be found in the middle of brambly overgrown suburban wilderness – good, boots, thick jeans required.
- Another super important thing to mention is only pick a plant if you are 100% sure you have identified it correctly. There are lots of great field guides out there – and many good guides on line. If you are not sure, you can order most herbs dried – although the downside is the cost.
- Only pick what you need!
Elderberry and rose hip cordial (with brambles and raspberries)
- Elderberries (fresh, frozen or dried can be used)
- Rose hips
- Brambles and raspberries
- Knuckle of fresh ginger
- Cinnamon stick
- 3-4 cloves
- Other spices – I included turmeric in this batch (experiment!), but I have also used thyme, rosemary.
Many recipes call for 1kg of mixed elderberries and rose hips, but this makes way way too much syrup for me. The method I was taught was a large handful of both. I have used about 500g of fruit.
WARNING:Elderberry juice stains – wear an apron!
- Wash the rose hips and roughly slice. Wear gloves as the hairs can irritate the skin (remember itching power!!). If you don’t want to slice them, pop them in the pan whole, and after they have softened bash them with a masher!
- Remove the stems, and any green elderberries, and add these to the pan.
- For 500g fruit I added a litre of water.
- Add all spices, and bring to the boil.
- Simmer with the lid on for an hour.
- Let the mix cool, and strain through a jelly bag. If not using a jelly bag, double up your muslin – you don’t want any of those rose hip hairs coming through.
- If the fruit is cool enough give the jelly bag a good squeeze – wear gloves if you don’t want purple hands.
- Measure the liquid. For every pint of liquid add 350g of honey.
- Let the honey dissolve then bring to the boil for 10 minutes. Once off the boil add about 1/4 pint of brandy.
- Transfer liquid to sterilised bottles, leave to cool, then label and date.
I take this by the tablespoon 2-3 times a day when I start to feel a cold coming on – but remember it has alcohol in it. I think its also nice with some soda water.