Elderberry cordial

Elderberry cordial by the james kitchen
Elderberry cordial, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Every year in late summer or autumn my cousin and I go on some sort of foraging excursion around the fields here. Well, we go for a walk and pick apples, blackberries and walnuts, sometimes we find plums or there are cherries. Last year we had a lot of elderberries and I used them to make elderberry syrup and we are still benefiting from the last bottles. Since my Mum had told me that elderberry cordial (syrup) has been used for centuries to treat flu and lower fever – and recent medical studies have supported her expertise – I pour a swig of it in our morning smoothie and levels are going down fast. The other day I read about an elderberry Cosmopolitan and this is what we’ll have this evening to start the weekend.

There might be still some black elderberries around or you have already stashed away some in the freezer for just a day like this. Important: do not eat any part of the elder and do not eat raw elderberries to be on the safe side. Even if the Sambucus nigra (European black elderberry) is considered to be the only non-toxic variety, you may not be able to distinguish the different varieties (like some people in California who had a rather unpleasant experience), so why risk it?

Elderberry cordial – Holunderbeersirup
makes about 1l (a little over 1 quart or 1 pint) of syrup.

1kg (2.2lbs) destalked elderberries (a quick freeze helps)
700g (3 ½ cups) caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
a piece of cinnamon bark (optional)

Place the berries into a large saucepan and add a little water (about one cup) and bring to the boil, cover and let the berries simmer for about 20 minutes until all berries have opened. Place a fine sieve over another saucepan and decant the berries into it, press lightly with a wooden spoon. Or you may want to use a muslin and let the juice drip slowly into the pan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and if using the cinnamon bark and bring the liquid slowly over medium heat to a boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Skim any foam. Decant the hot syrup into sterilized bottles or jars.


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