When the weather starts to get inclement and the nights much longer, there are still loads of things the active forager can do – especially if you learn to dry, cure, pickle or preserve your gleanings! I recently decided to use the year’s harvest of ripe Elder berries to make a traditional winter “cure-all”.
My family has used Elderberry Rob for years and years and I swear it is an effective way of keeping colds and coughs at bay – certainly, these are also the claims that have been made since the days of Pliny in the 1st Century AD. The Saxons used the berries extensively, though of course, they wouldn’t have had access to sugar and cloves like we do; even having said that, the recipe is one of the oldest to have been found written down during a time when all but Royalty, the Clergy and stonemasons were illiterate.
Here’s the recipe I use: 6lb Elderberries, 1.5lb sugar and 15 cloves plus a chopped stem of fresh ginger. The technique is also simple: wash the berries by straining in water, bring the berries to a simmer but no need to add any water. Gently mash the berries once they are simmering. Then strain the juice through a muslin and squeeze out as much juice as possible – bring this juice back up to a simmer whilst adding the remaining ingredients – keep stirring so that all the sugar dissolves.
Once cool it can be bottled and should store perfectly well for a year. We use it like a fruit squash and it’s especially good hot! As far as it’s health benefit I always resort to “touching wood” and try not to tempt fate, but I haven’t had a day off sick for over 15 years so something has to be working!!!! Good luck!!
If you fancy a foraging trip which will take you from locating and harvesting, right through to turning it into a useful product ready for use then do contact me via the website or on the Facebook page, we can make it happen!! I’m also currently offering special offer vouchers which can be purchased for Christmas presents! Get your voucher here – http://jonnietaylor.com/gift-v