This is our family recipe, and we think it makes the best elderberry syrup we have ever tasted.
Pick the berries on a dry day, (I added pieces of ginger before simmering)
You will need:
* Loads of elderberries - get a couple of kilos to begin with (take whole heads and pick them when the weather is dry)
* A bit of ginger (optional)
* 1lb (450g) of sugar per pint of juice- you can use Splenda instead if you are worried about sugar intake (it is very light so follow the instructions which substitute volume for weight….)
* Juice of one lemon per pint of liquid
* 10 cloves per pint of liquid
* A stainless steel pan (don't use aluminium)
* Glass or food grade plastic bottle(s) with airtight caps
* a funnel (you can just cut the top off a large soft drinks bottle and use that)
* Jelly bag, J-cloths or wine filtering fabric
* A large sieve
* A fork
* Wash the elderberries and drain well. The easiest way to strip them off their heads is to use a large fork. You don't have to be inch perfect here - just not too much greenery.
* Put the elderberries in a pan - stainless is best, and not aluminium as the berries are acidic and strip the metal - and just cover them with water.
* Bring to the boil and simmer till they are soft (usually 25-30 minutes)
* Strain through a jellybag/J cloth/Sieve. You can bash them about first and squeeze the bag all you like, but don't use a food processor as the seeds are bitter when broken.
* Then for every pint of liquid add 1lb of sugar, juice of one lemon and 10 cloves
*Return to the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Boil hard for 10 mins and then leave to cool. Fish out the cloves (we just pour it through a sieve).
* Bottle in containers that have been sterilised.
Use sterilised bottles:
- The microwave, in a pan with a little water to make steam if they fit! – 1 minute. Remember to remove all metal and paper from the bottles
- Glass bottles in your oven (load them in when it is cold, and then run it up to about 140C, leave it there for 10-15 minutes and let it cool slowly.
- Leave them to soak in disinfectant then rinse and run in dishwasher twice on highest setting with no powder.
Save old glass bottles: Olive oil bottles and wine bottles with screw caps are good to fill with syrup.
Unopened and refrigerated or kept in a nice cold place this should keep for years.
Elderberries are ripe in Early Autumn
As I walked into work today I noticed a certain reddening of the elderberries. So the time of elderberry syrup is almost upon us. Those of you who remember the late, truly great Spike Milligan may recall a mythical invention of his called Snibbo. Snibbo did everything, cleaned floors, cured cancer, took the dog for a walk - you name it.
Elderberry Syrup has some of the same properties. It is a tonic, it works as a cough syrup, it helps the vodka go down, it makes a slightly spicy winter Kir Royale and for all I know it is good for any number of other uses. Not for cleaning floors though as it is a bit sticky.
However if you have not tried Elder Berry syrup, do so this autumn. It is unbelievably good.
More seriously - this is a remedy that has been used for at least the last 400 years. The syrup is aperient, which means it helps relieve chest troubles, it is a cold preventative (not H1N1 unfotunately although it probably helps) and undiluted it will bring on a sweat.
We usually dilute it at about the same rate as Ribena and then you can add a squeeze of lemon, a drop of brandy or whisky or (according to Laura - elderberry syrup is good with tequila).
Add a little to some red white before dinner.
Drizzle it on Ice Cream.
Drink long with soda water, ice and a sprig of mint during those sweltering summers of ours.... et
Creative Commons License
Elderberry Syrup Recipe by
Frances Bosdari is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at