There are some brilliant nutrient bombs, absolutely free, waiting for you to simply pick in the hedgerows right now. The golden rule with foraging is to always be 100% certain of what you are collecting and if in doubt, don’t. The internet and some clever plant recognition apps are a great source for checking fruits and berries to help you stay safe.
We are at the end of the elderberry season but the dark colour of these little black berries mean that there are
high levels of compounds call anthocyanins proanthocyanidins, and phenolic compounds, as well as being especially high in vitamin C. These compounds have the potential to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Elderberry is known for its antiviral properties, particularly flu and other upper respiratory infections. Studies indicate that they may have a beneficial effect on a healthy immune system. If your elderberries have already been taken by the birds, you can buy dried ones online. Always cook fresh and dried elderberries before consuming as they can be poisonous eaten raw.
My version of Elderberry Rob opposite is based on a version by medical herbalist Janine Gerhard, but I have significantly reduced the sugar content from the original recipe by reducing the syrup by 25%.
Now is the time to be picking rosehips. They have a wonderful fruity flavour and are tart due to their very high levels of vitamin C. If you can collect enough blackberries, rosehips, hawthorn berries, sloes, crab apples, elderberries or rowan berries, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall has an amazing Hedgerow Jelly recipe (below).
Famous for sloe gin, sloes are actually better if they are kept on the bush as long as possible, until the first frosts. But where I live people are picking them already. Freeze them first and then prick them with a pin before adding to your favourite sloe gin or vodka recipe. This is better when left to mature – I’m hoping that the sloes I picked last year will be good for this Christmas.
Elderberry Rob is an old traditional recipe, used as a warming treatment for coughs and colds. Simply take 1 tablespoon daily during colds and flu season. It can be taken alone, drizzled on yogurt, or diluted with hot water to make a tea.
• 8 cups of elderberries
• 8 cups of water
• 2 large slices fresh ginger • 3 cinnamon sticks
• 2 star anise
• 3 cloves
• 1 orange, sliced
• 500g sugar
• Strip the berries from the twigs using a fork
• Add berries, water, spices and orange to a pan
• Simmer 30-40 minutes
• Strain, squeezing out all juice, return to pan adding sugar
• Simmer for a further 20 minutes, reducing the liquid by 25%
• Cool, and pour into a sterilised bottle. You can also add a small amount of alcohol to act as a preservative.
by: Karen Geary, a Registered Nutritional Therapist DipION, mBANT, CNHC at Amplify