Elderberry elixir is a glorious thing- so deliciously, fragrant and immune boosting too.
In contrast to the delicate creamy elder flowers with their musky, distinctive fragrance, the berries that ripen through late January and all through February are dark staining and powerful medicine.
I have made syrups with the elder berries and even tried them raw, but they do not agree with me in that state, so instead, each year, I make an elixir- which is very simple and utterly delicious.
The berries must be as ripe as possible- dark and black, so you have to nab them just before the birds get to them. If they are not quite ripe all over just leave them in a bowl for a day or two & they will soon darken up.
Remove the berries from their clusters with your fingers or a fork. I don't worry too much about the odd stalk. Fill any sized jar with the berries to around two thirds full, pour in some brandy until the berries are just covered and then add honey to taste. You'll need a good lot of honey as elderberries have no natural sweetness of their own.
So all you need is a jar with a good lid, the elderberries, brandy and honey.
The first year I poured off the elixir and bottled it.
Now I just leave it all in together, as I find the berries are also then edible having been "marinated" nicely and are utterly delicious.
The elixir can then be taken by the spoonful, diluted in to water, fizzy water or added in to a hot drink of fruity tea. Drizzled over ice cream or added in to a berry cheesecake also works very nicely.
The elixir is then ready just in time for autumn and helpful for buoying the immune system as we head in to cooler weather. Elder flowers and berries are lovely medicine and provide useful and unique nutrients too.
You can also see how to make a simple elderflower fizz just here.