Ever Made Elderberry Syrup?

elderberry syrup

Because you should. The stuff is all around now to be harvested and enjoyed.

Elderflowers do get more of the spotlight when it comes to making cordial. Early summer and the heady white blossoms may be gone, but they are replaced with the umbrella-shaped clusters of blue-black fruit: welcome elderberries!

Please note: Eating uncooked elderberries, leaves, bark or roots can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Also, when I’m talking about the elder plant I refer to European or Black Elder (Sambucus nigra). If you are collecting the flowers or berries yourself, ensure that you have correctly identified the plant as other types of elder may be more toxic.

That said, elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants, it’s usually taken as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. In folk medicine, the berries are also known to be used as remedy for infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, heart pain and nerve pain, as well as a laxative and diuretic. Elderberries have many nutritional benefits as well: a good source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

All that in a berry. And they taste great too, so go and pick some – the funky tart aroma is so unique! Making elderberry syrup is not a big deal at all, the recipe only calls for 3 ingredients: the berries, sugar and citric acid. When filled into sterilized bottles, the syrup has a decent shelf life of 12 months (as with any other canned product, discard if color, texture, taste or smell has changed). Refrigerate after opening.

A few tips, before you begin: wear rubber gloves when handling the berries, they stain everything deep purple. Wash berries after you have removed them from the stems. Mature berries will sink and remaining stems, immature berries, leafy matter and insects will float. You can store washed berries in ziploc bags in your freezer, or you may dry them as well for later use.

Drink simply diluted with water, or mix it up with lemon, mint or ginger. Just the type of refreshment you need in this heat!

Elderberry Syrup

  • Difficulty: easy
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Tasty, refreshing syrup made from the blue-black berries of the elder plant. Makes cca. 3,5 l syrup.


1 kg elderberries, stems removed

1,5 kg / 3.3 lbs sugar

3 l / 12 cups water

2 ½ tsp citric acid


  1. Wearing latex gloves, pick elderberries from stems. Wash.
  2. In a large pot, bring berries and water to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 30 min. stirring occasionally.
  3. Strain/press through a fine sieve.
  4. Add sugar and citric acid to juice, bring to a boil. Cook syrup uncovered for 15 min, until sugar has dissolved and syrup-y consistency is reached.
  5. Fill into sterilized bottles with the help of a funnel and ladle.
  6. Keep in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.



Image: Laura Muthesius / Our Food Stories

Friday Finds

Have you planned the holiday menu yet? I’ve still to test a few recipes, but it’s coming together. Below are some gorgeous examples on how to dress up a simple cake for Christmas.

By Hannah of Domestic Gothess:

christmas cake

By Erin of Erin Made This:

christmas cake

Photo by Ruth Black via Stocksy:

christmas cake

By Tessa of Style Sweet CA:

christmas cake

By Joanna of Liebesbotschaft:

christmas cake

Happy weekend!


How to Make a Rosemary Topiary

How to Make a Rosemary Topiary title image

Did you know even the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were pruning plants into decorative shapes? It is said that topiary is an art form that takes dedication and time as you will be shaping your plants for years and the upkeep is continual. But don’t be scared off just yet, I’ll show you it’s a lot less complicated and time-consuming than you thought.

There is something chic about adding life to a space with topiaries. They can elevate a basic, traditional interior into something special, and work really good in modern spaces as well by reinforcing symmetry and creating balance. One or two will do wonders to your function-focused kitchen too!

How to Make a Rosemary Topiary tablescape
Modern-rustic tablescape with greenery

Traditionally, topiaries are made from plants like ivy, boxwood and myrtle, but they can be created from just about any woody perennial. Rosemary has a tendency to drape and grow into a shrub and is also ideal to be trimmed into a topiary sphere or an elongated pyramid. While training rosemary could take some time, it looks so elegant and provides herbs for your kitchen. Looks like we have a real win-win situation here!

Believe me, you want topiaries in your life. 🙂 Here’s how:

How to Make a Rosemary Topiary collage

Plant a rooted rosemary cutting (instructions on propagating here and on potting them here), prune the side shoots to encourage vertical growth. Stake the plant snugly with ties, and let it grow in a sunny spot, giving it plenty of water. Turn the plant weekly so it receives even sunlight. When it has reached the desired height, trim off its main vertical shoot. This will stop its upward growth and encourage branching. Then, strip the bottom two-thirds of the plant of all its shoots, leaving the top one-third and its branches for shaping. Don’t forget to loosen ties as the trunk grows in diameter. Pinch off growing tips to maintain a full, dense top and encourage further branching.

How to Make a Rosemary Topiary mini trees

My first mini rosemary trees turned one year old, and I planted new ones this year again. I prefer giving live flowers to go along gifts, and everyone absolutely adored these.

Another plant I’m planning on training is lavender, I’ll let you know how it goes. Also, feel free to ask me in the comments if you have any more questions!



Tablescape by Alchemy Fine Events

Images featured in collage from Better Homes and Gardens

Rosemary “trees” image found on City Farmhouse

Potting Herbs Is Easy


Hey there new green thumbs! Hope things are looking good in your windowsills. By now the new additions to your home’s flora should show signs of growth. Isn’t it nice to watch them produce roots and leaves out of virtually nothing? Nature is indeed wonderful.

Brace yourselves, because we’ve arrived at a point where we need to get our hands a little dirty: it’s time to pot. Tools you’ll need include the pots and containers you decorated earlier, potting soil, bucket, newspaper, gloves and a trowel. You needn’t worry though, no degree in horticulture is necessary to carry on, not much to go wrong here.

Let’s get down to business! First things first, cover your work surface and collect all the necessary equipment around you. I know it’s obvious, but still… put your hand on your heart and tell me you never had to look for something in the middle of the process. I know I did. 🙂

general potting soil mix with good drainage

That said, pour some soil in the bucket, it’s less messy to deposit to the pots that way than from a big bag. Fill the pots with soil, push down a little to compress and add some more. Arrange and separate your cuttings, cut lowest leaves from stems. You may plant each in separate pots, or create a container garden of them. If you decide on the latter, make sure to use a spacious container and leave plenty of room between the herbs.

potting herbs is easy collage

Now what you do is simply make holes in the middle of the pots, gently put the lower 1/3 of the cuttings in it, cover with soil and push down lightly. Water them carefully but thoroughly, the little hollow at the root will make it easier. Label them with your shiny new herb markers and well, that’s basically it! Congratulations on your herb garden!

potting herbs is easy kitchen garden

Caring for them from now on is really just providing a place with plenty of sunshine and watering regularly. The soil should be moist but your plants should not stand in water as that can cause rotting of the roots. No need for pesticides, the essential oils in these herbs will protect them from most known deseases. You will start using fresh spices in your kitchen sooner than you think!

Take care,


Images used in collage from Growing Chefs

Start Your Herb Garden

start your herb garden title image

Although it’s still grey and moist outside, spring is around the corner. Temperatures started slowly crawling up and it’s not pitch dark anymore when I make my morning coffee. Birds feel it too, they just can’t stop singing even on the rainiest, ugliest of days.

Don’t know about you, but this aprés Valentine’s end of February is usually the time when I get really fed up with the whole winter thing. Seriously, not even a steaming cup of mulled wine, my absolute cold-season favorite will cure spring fever.

I am desperate for the new and fresh, something green for a change and I’ve found a way to get a bit ahead of nature: it’s the perfect time to start your very own countertop herb garden. Better yet, it is fit for small spaces, a spot indoors with enough natural light will do just fine.

Don’t quite have a green-thumb? No worries! I’ve selected a few culinary herbs I have experience with, and I can say that they are as easy to handle as it gets. My essentials are mint, rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram, tarragon and thyme. Very versatile, they can be used either fresh or dried, for seasoning food, making teas or coctails alike.

start your herb garden culinary herbs collage
Selection of culinary herbs to start your herb garden

Starting your herbarium (collection of herbs) in your windowsill or on your sunny kitchen counter is easier than you think. Select the speciments you want. All the above mentioned herbs are perennial, meaning they don’t die after one season.

You can buy seeds and follow the planting instructions on the packaging. You can also cheat and buy the grown plants, but then you’ll miss out on the fun… Be careful though with herbs sold in the supermarket, because my experience is they tend to give up soon due to the poor conditions they are kept in. Better go to your local garden center, where you’ll get expert advice too.

Another rather inexpensive way to start your own herb garden is propagating by rooting from cuttings. Go ahead and ask someone who already has these plants, all of them multiply nicely. What you need to do is cut off young, healthy shoots of about 5-8 cm, strip off lower leaves and plant them in moist soil. I put my cuttings in a small cup of water first, and plant the shoots when they’ve produced tiny roots. Remember to keep them in a light place and water regularly.

Sage plant
Cuttings from sage for propagating

Now we sit back, relax and wait 3-4 weeks for signs that our herbs are alive and well. Until then I will bring you cute ways to decorate the pots and containers you’re going to transfer the plants into.

I’d love to know how it’s going for you, so tell me about it in the comments below!




Watercolor featured in title image by Yael Berger

Herb watercolors in collage by Cheryl Oz