One of the best family remedies to help fight off winter colds is elderberry syrup.
1. Harvest the berries, including stalks.
2. Place them in a big pan with a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a knob of dried ginger or any other spices you fancy, and cover with water.
3. Bring the water to the boil and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Mash the berries until the liquid looks a dark purple.
4. Strain the liquid through muslin.
5. Return it to the pan with 1lb of brown sugar (essential for preserving) per pint of liquid.
6. Gently warm the liquid through again, stirring all the time.
7. When it has started to go syrupy (after another 10-20 minutes), remove it from the heat, pour it into sterilised bottles and put the lids on.
8. Label each bottle with the date.
To use, place a dash of syrup in a mug with a squeeze of fresh lemon, and top it up with hot water. Use slightly less for children. I have found this to be amazing at the onset of any cold or flu virus. The elderberries encourage the body to eliminate toxins via the skin through promoting sweating. Delicious and efficacious.
Fiona Heckels is a hedgerow herbalist with a special interest in pregnancy, childbirth and children’s medicine. She runs a school of Sensory Herbcraft with Karen Lawton involving workshops, talks and walks. Their company, Sensory Solutions, provides natural health care through the magic and medicine of herbs. (Accurate at the time this issue went to print).
First published in Issue 25 (Autumn 2011) of JUNO: