A chesty cold and sore throat on waking took me to the fields for some dawn air and to gather some of those Elderberries hanging bulbous, big as Blackcurrants, before the birds did. Wellybooted over pyjamas - for the Elder grows in patches of nettles high as my hips - I stepped out. The fields dewladen, my steps marked the grass invoking Richard Long's beautiful artwork - A Line Made by Walking.
A Line Made by Walking - Richard Long
The hedgerows brimming with fruits, as well as the Elderberries, I grabbed handfuls of Haws and Rosehips, Blackberries and Wild Apples... a few Crabapples, some wild Plums all to go in the syruppy concoction. Chopped up the hard fruit, just covered with water in a pan and brought to simmer, then adding the soft fruits (remove the elderberries from their very bitter and cyanide rich stalks using a fork). Pummel the lot adding a few Cloves, some grated Ginger and half a stick of Cinnamon. Simmer gently for up to an hour, so the liquid is rich gloopy purple.
Strain for several hours or overnight through muslin. Then, adding between 500g-750g of sugar per litre of liquid heat once again until the sugar is dissolved, the syrup just boiling. Pour immediately into sterilised bottles and seal tightly. The syrup keeps thus for several months, rich in Vitamin C and wild goodness it is somewhere between a cordial and a medicine. Drink hot or cold, diluting with water, on those cold-ridden days, or wintry evenings by the fire, adding a splash of brandy when necessary. Otherwise add to Crumbles, Pies and even stews for some late Summer Hedgerow Flavour.
If you happen to have a steam juicer this concoction can be made without sugar, the steamer will pasteurise the juice and it can likewise be kept in sterilised bottles for several months.