Thursday, 26 August 2010

Elderberry syrup

This year I was full of good intentions to make elderflower cordial. I've always wanted to try it, but unfortunately I missed my chance as the flowers were very much past their best when I eventually got organised enough to make some. I've been noticing the elderberries ripening and thought how lovely it would be to use them, but I only knew of elderberry wine and didn't fancy the whole wine making process.

When I came across this blog post for elderberry syrup by Dawn at Raising Seedlings, I was delighted. A great way to use up the berries around me, and with health benefits too! We went on a family forage this afternoon and picked what I thought was a lot of elderberries (I'll come back to that later!) plus some early sloes and damsons for flavouring gin.

I used Dawn's recipe as a guide, but also made some tweaks, as I am apparently incapable of following a recipe to the letter!

I removed the berries from the stalks with a fork and washed them in a bowl of water, removing the ones that floated (along with assorted earwigs, grubs and spiders)

Then they went into a pan with enough water to just cover the fruit. I put them over a low heat for just over half an hour until the fruit was soft. I also added some crushed ginger after the fruit had been bubbling away for 10 minutes or so.

Next, I strained the mixture through a sterilised muslin. I think it's going to be permanently purple from now on! I found I had a mere 3/4 of a pint of liquid,despite the mass of berries I started with, so I added 10 oz sugar and some honey.

I gently heated the mixture until the sugar had dissolved and added the juice of a lemon to counteract the sweetness a little. I also popped in a small handful of cloves and boiled the whole lot on a rolling boil for ten minutes

Finally I poured my finished syrup into sterilised jars. I'd have preferred to use bottles, but didn't have any to hand. Although I thought I had picked an abundance of berries, the quantity didn't quite fill two jam jars. I think I might have to make some more soon! So as not to waste a drop, I poured boiling water into the preserving pan to reward myself with a lovely hot drink and a slice of date cake. An afternoon very well spent.


  1. That's interesting, I intend to make an elderberry pie soon. They don't seem to be ripe enough just yet here. Picked blackberries yesterday for a pie.

  2. I'd love to hear how the elderberry pie goes. I didn't know you could make pies with them! I'll have to give it a try too.

  3. Lovely, glad you made some too. My recipe is only a guid to me too, I'm a chuck it together and see what it tastes like sort of person. I find it better to judge if something is good or ready by taste.

    Elderberries in pies is good, but they can be bitter so need something sweet to go with or sugar/honey. I use elderberries in cordials too.

    Enjoy your syrup!