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.