This winter as a family we have managed to stave off most colds. No-one has had the flu and sore throats and chesty coughs have been minimal.
We make and consume Elderberry syrup regularly. It is well known for its support to the immune system, being antiviral, rich in vitamin C and ideal for colds and inflenza, and also useful in rheumatism.
Today is Imbolc a tradition Gaelic festival marking the begining of spring. We woke up this morning to a fresh covering of snow.
Winter hasnt finished with us yet so it seems…
To mark the day and make use of stored frozen berries, here is a method to make an Immune boosting syrup.
Traditionally Elderberry Rob, is made using only elderberries, and maybe some spice ie cinnamon. But, today we are using a combination of our foraged berries that were frozen; elderberry, hawthorn berry, blackberry, rosehips and some fresh spruce tips that grow nearby.
There is no particular measurements, just what we had available. All of these berries and the spruce tips bring their own vitamins, antioxidants, antiviral and antibacterial properties to the mix.
- The above ingredients were put into a saucepan, we added some powdered Turkey Tail fungus because we had it available and it is a great immune supporter.
- Cover with cold water and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer gently with the lid on to keep in the goodness and stop any medicinal oils escaping in the steam.
- You can add cinnamon, star anise or cloves to add sweet spicyness, or leave it as it is. Use your own intuition here, sliced fresh ginger is lovely. We have left ours plain to appreciate the natural flavours and the citrus of the spruce tips.
- Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. The liquid will reduce and thats ok.
- Allow to cool, and then it can be strained through a clean cloth. Squeeze as must out as possible, it may be easier to do this in two or three smaller batches.
- Measure the liquid, and to each pint add 1lb of sugar or honey.
- Put this back into the clean saucepan, very gently reheat, stirring to prevent the sugar or honey burning on the bottom.
- We like to gently simmer on the lowest setting until the liquid becomes thick and syrupy. But this will depend on how much evaported from the fruit . In most cases its not long, and you certainly dont want to accidently burn it.
- Bottle in sterilised bottles and cork tightly, label and keep in a cool place.
- This syrup should keep up to a year, but once opened store in a fridge.
Of course the most obvious time to use this syrup is when you feel a cold coming on, taken by the teaspoonful or diluted with hot water as a comforting and warming drink.
But its also lovely as a mixer in alcoholic drinks, or as a base for non alcoholic ‘mocktails’.
One of our favourite ways is to run a slice of lemon around the rim of a glass. Dip the rim into juniper sugar (recipe below) and allow to dry.
Pour syrup in the bottom of glass and top up with carbonated water. The Juniper sugar gives a gin like flavour and you really dont miss the fact theres no alcohol. Hot water can also be used, giving a non alcoholic hot toddy.
1 cup Granulated sugar
1-2 tsp of whole dried juniper berries
Half a teaspoon beetroot powder.
- In a spice or coffee grinder add the sugar and juniper berries, start with less juniper as more can be added to your taste. Give it all a quick wizz in the grinder. The sugar should be well flecked with juniper.
- Pour into a small bowl and add the beetroot powder, stir through. We add this for a lovely pink colour. But can be ommited if you dont have any.
- Adjust the amount of juniper and beetroot to your preference.
We hope you enjoy the recipes,
The Plant Path Folk x