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Elderberry Flu Remedy

IMG_7617ZestlifeIt was our first foraging and cooking weekend last week. We woke to sun streaming across the fields, trees glowing in the morning light, it was the perfect Autumn morning.  We started the course by exploring the hedgerows, fields and lanes on the Clwydian range. I have grown up roaming this area and it gave me great pleasure to share this beautiful part of the world with my guests. We tromped up the fields from the back of the farm, stopping to chat and discuss the various hedgerow shrubs and trees. We looked at their habitat, their leaf structures, discussed the traditional folklore tales behind the trees and and most importantly we harvested their fruit.

IMG_7669ZestlifeBasket loads of fruit infact, to take home to the country kitchen. Rosehip, Rowan, Blackberry, Hawthorn and Elderberry were the main focus. We nibbled on various plants along the way, including chickweed which makes for a fabulous addition to salads. After a wonderful alfresco lunch back at the farm, it was into the kitchen to turn our harvest into culinary delights. My favourite being the Elderberry Flu Remedy.


Elder ~ Sambucus Nigra

Harvest Time ~ August – September

The Elder is a medium sized deciduous tree or shrub that blossoms from May with its delicate spray of tiny white flowers followed by the blackish purple berries from late August. This weekend we will be purely looking at the Elderberry but there are also a number of recipes when using the Elderflower in June.

The elder is used in the liquer Sambuca so called because of the plants latin name. The berries have a high Vitamin C content and are highly effective at treating colds and flu. The Anglo saxon name for the elder was ‘aeld’ meaning fire. This name derived from the fact that the branches when hollowed out would be used as bellows to blow air  through to help start fires.

NOTE : When harvesting the elderberries use secateurs to snip just above the head of the spray of berries. If you have time, transfer the berries to the freezer for a few hours. This hardens up the berries and will make life much easier and far less messy when it comes to removing the berries from the stalks using a fork.

Elderberry Flu Remedy (Elderberry Ribena!)

The elderberry contains a substance known as Sambucol, from the latin name of the plant Sambucus Nigra. This substance has proved highly effective in curing colds and flu. Many pharmaceutical companies are now looking into the elderberry as an effective antidote to colds and flu. Don’t be surprised to see more elderberry based remedies on the market before too long. But here we can make our own remedy that is not only has amazing healing properties for the immune system but tastes delicious too.

Makes approx 2 Litres


2 kg Elderberries
Granulated Sugar
Cinnamon stick


1. Pick your elderberries and prepare by stripping them from their stalks using a fork, into a large bowl. (See freezer tip above)

2. Put in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer till soft. Roughly 30 minutes.

IMG_7698Zestlife3. Strain the liquid pulp through a sieve and measure the liquid that you have aquired. For every 600ml of elderberry juice add the juice of 1 lemon, 10 cloves and 450g sugar.

4. Return to the heat and add a 2cm piece of ginger, cinnamon stick and the peel of an orange. Simmer till the sugar has dissolved then boil hard for ten minutes.


IMG_7690Zestlife5. Remove from the heat and let the liquid cool before removing the ginger, cloves, cinnamon and peel.

6. Decant into warm sterilised bottles where the remedy will keep for up to a year. This can also be stored in the freezer in bags or a versatile way is to pour the remedy into ice cube trays. That way you can simply add hot water to a couple of the ice cubes and you have yourself a perfect winter warmer drink, that not only tastes heavenly but will keep colds and flu at bay. Enjoy xx



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