Monday, 23 September 2013

Elderberry cough syrup

While chatting to my neighbour earlier today, we got onto the subject of the fruit harvest and the making of jams, syrups and cordials.  I was telling her about the elderberry and blackberry winter cold syrup I've been making - one which is supposed to give the immune system a real boost and do wonders for reducing the symptoms of colds and flu.  Apparently elderberry syrup was used during a flu pandemic in Panama in 1995!
Homemade cough syrup
Having researched various recipes, I decided on putting blackberries in with the elderberries as on their own, the elderberries are a little too "earthy" tasting for my liking.  The result is a pleasant tasting syrup with a nice lingering aftertaste of blackberry.  My neighbour agreed it was delicious and asked whether it was difficult to make.  It isn't.  And making your own sure beats paying the extortionate price for Sambucol or similar at a chemist or healthfood shop - around £9.00 for 120ml - with the bonus of knowing exactly what's gone into it.

As with most of my stuff, the recipe isn't at all precise.  I picked a punnet of blackberries from the hedges around my allotment, and snipped around half a carrier bag full of elderberries, which also grow in abundance on the peripheries of the allotment site.  The ready availability of both these plants was a major factor in my decision to take the plots I have.

To make the syrup, wash the blackberries and chuck them into the largest saucepan you have.  Strip the elderberries from their stems - I use my fingers to "tickle" them off, others use a fork - wash and throw in with the blackberries.  Just cover with water, then bring to the boil, knock back the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.  Strain through a jelly bag into a large bowl or similar.  Leave for an hour or so, then gently squeeze the bag to extract as much juice as possible.  Warning: this process will leave your hands looking as though you have just murdered someone!!

Tip the juice back into a saucepan, add some sugar when the juice is hot but before it reaches boiling point, simmer for a few minutes to allow the sugar to completely dissolve, then decant into sterilised jars or bottles and cap them to ensure a tight seal.  I don't measure the amount of sugar, just add enough to give the mixture a pleasant, but not overly sweet, taste.

Et voila!  Start taking a spoonful morning and night if you feel like you've got a cold coming on, and if you've already got a cold, take a spoonful every 2-3 hours throughout the day.  Once the seal on your jar/bottle has been broken, store the syrup in the fridge.  It should keep for a couple of months.  Unopened, it may keep for up to 1 year until the next making season. :)

Until next time. x

Disclaimer:  Obviously this post is in no way intended to be taken as medical advice, as I am not a doctor, nurse, or licenced healthcare practitioner.  This post is for educational purposes only and you should always consult your GP or medical adviser, and carry out your own research before taking any herbal remedy.

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