Anyway, today I picked some Elderberries. It is very important to always be sure in your indenification of this shrub, as many toxic purple berries exist. The purple-black berries belong to the Sambucus Nigra Tree. It is said that Summer arrives when the flowers bloom and ends when the berries ripen - how time flies!
Both the berries and the flowers are edible and have medicinal uses. The flowers are commonly made into cordials and champagne and but traditionally, elderflower and elderberry infusions were used to break a fever. Elderberries make a perfect an immune boosting drink during the Winter months and to help heal from colds, viruses, flus and sore throats.
The leaves, stems, raw or unripe berries of Elder should be avoided as they are mildly toxic due to cyanglycosides. Thankfully, you can cook the berries which destroys the toxic compounds rendering them edible!
I like to make my berries into a syrup and place it into ice cube trays which I store in the freezer for when they are needed.
To make a syrup is really easy. Simply collect some ripe berries (they should be dark purple, rather than green or red). Remove the stems. Give them a quick rinse. Cook them in some water for 30 minutes. Once they are cooked, strain the mixture (make sure you squeeze all the goodness out). Measure the liquid. Pour the liquid back into the pan and add the same amount of sugar (eg. 200ml liquid, add 200g sugar). Bring to the boil and stir until all the sugar has dissolved (around 10 minutes). Pour the syrup into a sterilised bottle or ice cube trays. To use add a little boiling water to make an infusion with one of the ice cubes or around 20ml of the syrup. It will last around 2 weeks in the fridge or freezing up to 6 months.
Has anyone else foraged for elderberries or flowers, and if so, what did you make? #foraging