The elderberries are ripe and perfect for collection in autumn, once you know what you are looking for you can see them in hedgerows, round the edges of fields and woodland and even in your garden. You Tube has many videos on identification but seek help from an experienced forager to start off, once you have been shown their distinctive features you will see them everywhere!

They have long been used in traditional herbal medicine to make a safe and delicious winter immune tonic to stave off colds and flu. Studies have shown the syrup may be immunoprotective, have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-flu properties (in a clinical trial elderberry syrup shortened the duration of flu by 3-4 days). Sambuccus nigra berries (elderberries) are very high in anti-oxidant flavonoids. Berries must be cooked as they can irritate the digestion otherwise.

You can make a cheap, delicious and effective elderberry syrup using one of the oldest and simplest herbal recipes with either fresh or dried elderberries.

Ingredients:

  • 140g fresh elderberries (remove berries from stalks) or 100g dried elderberries (can buy online – preferably organic)
  • 800mls water (preferably filtered)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger or 1tsp dried ginger
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4tsp cloves
  • 350g honey (preferably raw)

Add all ingredients except the honey to a medium saucepan

Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about half.

Mash the berries with a fork and then pour the mixture through a fine sieve. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.

Stir in the honey until it has dissolved

Pour into a glass bottle (can buy from large supermarkets or online)

Seal and place in the fridge.

The syrup will last about a month in the fridge although you can also freeze small amounts and defrost as needed, or freeze the fresh berries after collection to make more batches throughout winter.

Dosage: Take 1 tbsp daily (adults) – safe in pregnancy, or 1tsp daily (children). If cold or flu strikes increase dosage to three times daily.