Simple Elderberry Syrup

If you go down to the woods today… you might be lucky enough to find an elder tree dripping with deep dark red elderberries. Sorry to disappoint those with a penchant for picnics and teddy bears. But on the plus side you might not have to venture as far as the woods to find these treasures. There’s a lovely old elder tree right next to my suburban garden. 

If I catch them at them earlier in the year I love to pick the elderflowers and make homemade elderflower cordial.  I’d love to make elderflower champagne but I’m a bit worried about exploding bottles. I need to learn to live a little closer to the edge before I attempt it.

This year I missed out on the elderflowers so I was determined to get my hands on the berries.

Elderberries are absolutely chock a block with antioxidants, which give our immune systems a massive boost. So making a syrup now and digging into it over the autumn and winter months is a great way to help ward off colds and flu.

A word of caution with these berries – you really have to cook them or you might risk an upset tummy.  When raw these little berries are obnoxiously sour so you’d probably want to cook them anyway – nature’s way of keeping us safe. Also make sure you discard the leaves and stalks as these can be toxic.  A little vigilance is totally worth it for the sweet elixir you end up with.

This syrup is made with sugar but you could absolutely make it with honey, which would also cram in yet more healthy delights. I added a couple of slices of fresh ginger and a couple of cloves and the result is that the finished syrup is slightly reminiscent of cola. So when my youngest was under the weather a couple of days ago he slurped down his ‘medicine’ no questions asked. If you prefer, keep it simple and just go with the berries and sweet stuff.

You could use this as a cordial, drizzle over greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream, add a dash to a cocktail or simply down a small shot when you feel your body needs a helping immune boosting hand.

Simple Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients

  • 500g elderberries
  • 400g sugar
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Optional flavour enhancers: a couple of slices of ginger and a couple of cloves

Method

  • First and foremost make sure you remove all of the stalks and leaves from the berries as these are toxic. Also discard any green berries.
  • You can gently pull the berries off the stalks or use a fork. I really like the fork method, which also cuts down on the staining of your fingers.
  • Give the berries a wash.
  • Tip them into a pan and cover with water (the water should be about 1cm over the berries). Add your ginger and cloves if you are using them. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  • Now strain through a sieve. Pour the liquid back into the pan along with the lemon juice and sugar. Simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled you can either bottle this and keep in the fridge or, to make it last even longer, freeze in ice cube trays.

What To Eat To Boost Your Immunity

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be picking up pesky colds and sniffles. So I’m trying to be a little more mindful of the foods that we are eating in the hope of boosting our immune systems to avoid those sneezes.

I knew we needed a whole lot of vitamin C, and garlic is always an immune boosting star, but after a bit of research today I’ve unearthed some surprising members of the immunity protection club. Like is it just me or is yoghurt the last thing you’d think to add to your immunity boosting shopping list?

Let’s be honest looking after yourself sometimes feels a bit like hard work. I mean it’s totally worth it but the prospect of piles of oranges soon gets old. As the nights start drawing in I’m often tempted to pull on a jumper and have a cosy threesome with a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate.

Which brings me to my favourite healthy discovery of the day. Are you ready for this? Tea and chocolate are in fact immune system supporters. Really and truly they are. Cross my heart.

This immunity boosting malarky just got interesting. So read on and eat yourself better.

Yoghurt

This was a real surprise to me but it makes so much sense. You see yoghurt is packed with probiotics, which are, quite frankly, awesome for general immune system boosting.

I’m thinking a lovely breakfast of natural yoghurt, fresh berries and an unctuous drizzle of runny honey to deliver a massive blast of healthy goodness.

Garlic

While this ingredient is well known to many of us for it’s antibacterial properties I couldn’t resist including it here as it’s one of my all time top favourite foods ever.

I will merrily be adding a few extra cloves here, there and everywhere. I hope nobody in my house is planning a romantic exchange any time soon.

Mangoes

A perfectly ripe mango might just be the biggest fruity treat I could wish for. The fact that these sunset painted beauties are so darn good for us is almost too good to be true.

If you devour a mango today you could be getting up to 2/3 of your daily vitamin C dose. Yesss!

Kiwis

Another fruity delight, which will help fight off the coughs and colds is the emerald green kiwi fruit. My kids will happily scoff these, skin and all, but I’m partial to whizzing them into a smoothie with oranges and bananas.

Tea

I’ve saved my favourite immunity stars for last. I do love a good old cup of tea and I knew there were some health benefits to be had from sipping a brew.

What I hadn’t realised until today is that the antioxidants in your cuppa are powerful enough to be effective against the flu virus.

Chocolate

There are 2 compelling facts I discovered about chocolate today: firstly it contains a fair whack of antioxidants, which are massively supportive to our immune systems; and secondly, cocoa contains an active ingredient which helps soothe a sore throat. Who knew?

And the bonus fact of the day is that you can still nibble on milk chocolate if you’re not a fan of it’s dark cousin. True, there won’t be as many antioxidants in milk choc, but they are undeniably in there.