One of the wonderful things about this time of year is the abundance of wild fruits in our fields and hedgerows. We’re all familiar with blackberries of course, but other jewels include sloes, hawberries, and elderberries.

Lots of us know the fragrant flowers of the elder tree and use them to make elderflower champagne, cordial, and fritters – or just enjoy them as elderflower pressé. Now those creamy frothy flowers have faded and the trees are laden with clusters of glistening dark berries. There are plenty of elder trees in cities and parks as well as the countryside, so you won’t have to hike for miles or scramble through hedges to find one!

Like the flowers, elderberries have lots of culinary uses. They can be used to make jams, wine, fruit pies, and hot drinks.

Elderberries have wonderful medicinal properties too and are one of Mother Nature’s best immunity boosters. Rich in vitamins A and C, they relieve sore throats and catarrh and can ward off colds and flu.

Nature expert Glennie Kindred says the elder tree helps release stuck emotional energy, brings clarity, eases worries, and helps us move through cycles of transition and endings towards new beginnings. The elder is a tree strongly associated with folklore. It was known as the Witches Tree, connected to the energy of the Crone or grandmother, and was feared as well as respected. It was thought witches could turn themselves into elders – so always ask an elder tree permission before you pick her berries!


Here Frank shares simple elderberry recipes by Glennie Kindred for boosting your immune system.

Caution: These recipes are for use with the European Elder (Sambucus nigra), not the American Elder (Sambucus canadensis), which can be poisonous. Do not eat elderberries raw.

Elderberry Tincture

An excellent immune-system booster and very effective in throwing off sore throats, congestion, coughs, colds, and flu: Fill a dark glass jar with elderberries, stripped with your fingers from the mesh of stalks. Cover with vodka or brandy. Shake every day for a month and then strain through muslin, squeezing the juice out of the berries and store in clean dark bottles and label.

Take half to one teaspoon, three times a day.

Elderberry Syrup

Highly prized and praised, and well worth making! It does the same job as the tincture but without the alcohol, so it is good for children.

Strip elderberries into a large pan. Add a cinnamon stick, chopped lemons, a few star anise, cloves, allspice, and some slices of ginger. Be intuitive with these! Stir it up and let the mixture stand overnight. The next day, warm it gently on a really low heat, bringing it up to boiling, and letting the juices flow. Then when cool, strain through muslin or a clean cotton pillowcase, squeezing all the juices out. Measure the liquid. You will need the same amount of clear honey as liquid. Return to a clean pan. Heat gently and when hot but not boiling, stir in the honey and when it has completely dissolved, pour into warmed dark bottles and label.

The dose is the same as for the tincture.

It is particularly good for coughs and sore throats and as a preventative.

It can also be used as a warming and healing cordial by adding hot water.

Once opened it needs to be kept in the fridge, otherwise unopened it will last for a year until you are ready to make your next batch!


Glennie Kindred

Find out more about Glennie here.


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