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!
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
- Wearing latex gloves, pick elderberries from stems. Wash.
- In a large pot, bring berries and water to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 30 min. stirring occasionally.
- Strain/press through a fine sieve.
- 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.
- Fill into sterilized bottles with the help of a funnel and ladle.
- Keep in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.
Image: Laura Muthesius / Our Food Stories