If the summer is the season of flowers, then autumn is definitely the season of berries. I shared a post on elderflower earlier in the year (you can find it here), and now all those flowers have turned to ripe, red berries.
The perfect time for picking elderberry is from early to late September. Unfortunately the storms and strong winds seem to have blow a lot of the berries off this year, but there may still be time for you to get a good elderberry foraging in.
How to pick Elderberries
If you haven’t already worked out where your elder bushes are from picking your elderflower earlier in the year, they can be found all along the hedgerows, paths and country lanes. Although Elder is a shrub, I’d left unchecked it can actually grow to tree height, so don’t be deceived by the bigger and taller plants.
You always want to choose berries that are above knee height, and trees that are away from busy main roads (as they can accumulate dust and traffic fumes. Which you really don’t want to ingest!)
Although you only want the berries themselves and NOT the stalks. I have found that it is easiest to pick the whole bunch of berries from the stem – I take a small pair of scissors with me to help with this part! and remove the individual berries once you get home. (You can do this using a folk and running it along the stem towards the berries.
Always wash the berries and allow them to dry overnight before using them. Make sure they are on a towel or similar to soak up any moisture.
You don’t want any green berries, so harvest berries when they turn purple and are rich and shiny.
Elderberry is very similar in its benefits to elderflower, which is not such a surprise as they are both from the same plant.
It is high in vitamins A and C, Quercetin, and antiviral properties. As well as being an anti inflammatory.
Take doses of Elderberry regularly to help with sore throats, cold and flu symptoms, Catarrh and temperatures.
A lot of the raw berries eaten at once have a laxative effect, so can be eaten if you are suffering from constipation.
But is also something to be cautious of if you are taking high doses of elderberry syrup for other symptoms!
The simplest elderberry recipe is elderberry syrup. You can use this as a cordial to add to hot water and make a delicious warming drink, but you can also take it neat to help relieve cold and flu symptoms.
Take one teaspoon every hour at the first sign of a sore throat or a cold.
1kg Elderberries (roughly)
200ml of water
1in fresh ginger / 1tbs dried
1tsp cinnamon powder
300g set honey
Strip the berries from their stems using a folk (removing any that are still green).
Add the berries to a large pan, covering the bottom of the pan with a small amount of water – enough so that the berries don’t burn.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for about 25mins until the berries give up their juice.
Take off the heat and allow to cool. Then strain the mixture and press through a muslin cloth of fine meshed sieve.
Once you have all the liquid pour it back into your pan, and add all the other ingredients.
Put on a low heat and stir until all the honey had melted.
Once all your ingredients are combined bring the mixture to the boil for 5minutes.
Allow to cool before straining the mixture a final time.
Store in sterilised air tight glass bottles, and keep in the fridge once opened.
(The syrup should keep for 6-12 months if stored correctly).