I passed a most enjoyable evening last night, with my friend Lisa. We banished dear Carl to the bedroom, and took over the kitchen to make Elderberry Cordial, or as I think of it, Elderberry Rob.
I can heartily recommend making this healing drink (take as a preventative to avoid a cold, or if you have one, as a restorative) but if you do – be advised that a pair of gloves would have been a very good idea.
Lisa picked around about a pound of elderberries from the bushes near her allotment. We stripped them from the stalks (this takes longer than you would imagine) and put them into a large saucepan (the one I use for boiling pasta in- that large!). We then poured in a pound of brown sugar (we opted for dark but I cannot imagine light would make much difference) and sort of mushed it into the berries with our hands. It felt so funny, and we burst as many of the berries as we could manage at the same time. It gave off a marvellous alcoholly mince pie smell, and when we decided we had done the squishing enough, we realised that we should have worn gloves.
Off to the bathroom we merrily tripped to ‘rinse off the elderberries’. Let me tell you, they do not rinse off! Or face scrub off! My hands are just about respectable today because I kept at them with salt and lemon juice, but I have had to paint my nails to hide the stains! Although it must be said that I believe elderberries would make a marvellous dye- a wonderful winey red-purple glossy colour.
We then heated and stirred the mixture until it boiled, boiled it for ten minutes or so, and then simmered it while we watched the first part of Spooks- about five minutes I suppose. Then we let it cool, strained it (mash at the berries with the back of a wooden spoon to get the most cordial out), and I bottled it. I suppose we got about 600ml of cordial out of the berries, and you take it a tablespoon or two in hot water at a time.
It felt very satisfying to have gleaming bottles of elderberry cordial sitting on the windowsill thinking ‘we made that!’
If you want to make it, here is the short version of the recipe, without all my meanderings:
Strip 1lb of elderberries from their stems, and wash them. Crush with 1lb of brown sugar, heat stirring until it boils, then simmer until it reaches a thick syrupy consistency. Pass through a sieve: in sterilized bottles it will keep for up to four years. To take, stir 1-2 tbsp into a mug of hot water, and drink.