Recipe: elderberry cordial15/09/2013 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments
Tags: nature recipes, naturecraft
If you’re looking for a reason to love autumn, I give you… elderberry cordial. Imagine a sublime concentration of juicy, fruity, fresh and vibrant flavours. Picture the deepest, richest ruby red colour. And did I mention that it’s backed with health benefits? It’s full of antioxidants and bioflavanoids. Rich in vitamins A, B6 and C, it also has good amounts of iron and potassium, making it a healthy drink all winter long. Okay, it contains sugar. But you do dilute it. Elderberry cordial is just beautiful.
My friend Jacqui asked me for the recipe, and I realised I don’t have one, not really. It’s flung together according to what fruits are available. I have been known to throw blackberries and plums into the mix, and any number of citrus fruits.
But this year, for the first time, I have written it down, just for Jacqui… and also for you, if you are passing a harvest-ready hedgerow any time soon.
Please note: measurements do not have to be exact.
Collect bunches of ripe elderberries (Sambucus nigra), as many as you can find. Pick them, put them in a basket, and carry them home.
At home, remove the berries from their stalks, discarding any that are past their best. The easiest way is to run a fork down the stalks. Put all the berries in a big bowl of water and swill around to remove any dust and bugs. Please note that the leaves and stems of this plant are considered toxic in the long-term, so don’t add them to your brew! A few tiny floret stems are fine, however.
Place the berries in a large pan and add just enough water to cover comfortably. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently for 15 minutes. Stir from time to time.
Strain into a large bowl through a colander with a muslin cloth draped over it. Press the cloth with the back of a large spoon to get as much of the juice out as possible. Be careful about spills: this liquid stains!
Measure the amount of liquid you have and put it back in the rinsed out pan. Add half a kilo (1 lb) granulated sugar for each generous litre (1.5 pints) of liquid.
Heat gently until all the sugar is dissolved. While you are doing this, you might like to add the juice of a couple of mandarins (or an orange or lemon) per litre (1.5 pints) of liquid.
Pour the liquid into sterilized bottles (putting them through the dishwasher beforehand is fine).
Put caps on the bottles, making sure they are well sealed.
Label and put in the fridge. (You can also freeze your cordial, but make sure you use plastic bottles and leave enough room in each bottle for the juice to expand when it freezes).
Your elderberry cordial will keep all through the winter, until early spring, in the fridge (actually, mine can keep for up to a year, in a cool cupboard).
Dilute with water to drink – a ratio of 1 juice to around 5 or 6 water depending on your taste. You can also drink it with sparkling water, or white wine, or even champagne. And it’s wonderful diluted with hot water to chase away winter chills.
There is something magical about gathering Mother Nature’s wild fruits, preserving them, and drinking them. You will find nothing so vibrant, in any shop. You’re connecting with nature, and your true nature. The medicine is in the making. And the finished product has a healing quality all of its own.