Despite my brother pointing out I ought to make it clear I don’t gather all my food from the ‘wilderness’, I have to share another Hedgerow harvest with you; and this time it’s all down to Mum who dropped off a bottle of fabulous elderberry syrup that she made last week. The recipe apparently goes something like this; lots and lots of elderberries, a piece of root ginger, 1 lb of sugar and the juice of a lemon for each pint of syrup you make.
Wash the elderberries and strip off as much greenery as possible, put in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Boil and simmer until soft and strain through a sieve or jelly bag. Then add sugar and lemon according to the amount of syrup you have (Mum said it was less than she thought!); heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and bottle in sterilised bottles. As well as tasting good as a cordial, the syrup can be used over ice-cream and even added to red wine and vodka (allegedly); it also has great healing properties as it’s full of vitamin C. When I met up with new-chef-on –the-block, Valentine Warner at the food Festival we chatted about hedgerow harvests and he agrees it’s a shame people don’t use more of what is freely available from Nature.
For me personally, it all adds to all the ‘Yogi’ (my Westie) walks I do; though it is nice to come home and find a bottle of the finished product on the doorstep too – thanks Mum.
Please note: be sure you identify the elderberry correctly; dwarf elder also resembles the elder tree (without woody stems and it grows in patches) but it’s berries are poisonous.
Lynne Allbutt – From the Archive.