Elderberries are full of wonderful. They are rich in vitamin C, full of antioxidants, flavinoides, vitamin A&B plus a whole heap of other things. Which is why they have been used medicinal for hundreds of years and why they make such a fantastic winter cough syrup.
You find them on Elder tree’s just as the seasons are starting to change from Summer to Autumn (the spring/summer flowers of the elder can also be harvested). The tree’s are very common in the wild and are often found along pathways or if you’re lucky you may have one in your garden.
Making the cough syrup is really easy and you don’t need a massive amount of berries. I don’t have a specific recipe I stick too. It all depends how much juice I get out of the elderberries and I also tend to make it in small batches.
I go by taste and consistency but a good rule of thumb is for every 250mls of juice you get add about
5 cloves, 5 pepper corns, 5 broken pieces of cinnamon stick, a slice or 2 of fresh ginger and a star anise plus about 2 oz of caster sugar. You can use honey instead of caster sugar but I prefer my family to take a spoonful of honey separately when we’re fighting off the cold and flew germs.
Here’s how I make mine ….
Pick your elderberries and remove them from the stalks and using a fork. You can use fingers but the fork is much easier.
Put the berries in a pan and pour in enough water to just cover the top of them. Stew the berries for about 10-15 minutes and then use a potato masher or fork and squash the berries to release more juice. Stew them for another 10 minutes.
Strain the juice through a muslim/straining cloth. It’s worth squeezing the pulp inside the cloth to get the trapped juice out. You can get a good 50mls extra.
Add your spices and caster sugar to the juice and return to the heat and simmer for another 15ish minutes. Leave to cool.
Don’t worry if you don’t have all the spices. The first batch I made this year didn’t have any star anise and the second batch didn’t have any ginger. You can even make this without adding the spices and still have a good cough syrup.
Pour your cooled syrup into a dark glass or ceramic container. You want to prevent the light getting to your cough syrup and leaching out any of the goodness.
Store your syrup in the fridge for 2-3 months (it won’t last that long!). I give my girls a teaspoon every day over the Autumn/Winter months. You can dilute it into a drink if that’s easier and it also tastes very nice drizzled over ice-cream! Up the dose to every 2-3 hours if you’re unlucky enough to catch a cold or flu.
NB: Don’t eat uncooked Elderberries as they can make you feel unwell and give you stomach ache.