This weekend, the berries on the elder tree in the garden were finally ready to pick! I wasted no time collecting as many as my small stature (5’2″) allowed! Unfortunately, my meagre height didn’t allow for enough collection so I sneaked off to the tree on the green next to our house to get more from there.
There is a bonus to being too short to reach all of the berries though. When I was a child and my mother and I collected blackberries from bushes, she would always tell me to leave some behind for the birds and animals so they would have something to eat during the winter. At the time, I thought she was crazy! Surely birds got food from us! I mean didn’t we go down the park every now and then to feed bread to the ducks? Added to which lots of old people had bird feeders in their gardens! It was only as I got older and learned more about the circle of life and how the world really worked that I realised that she wasn’t crazy! She was actually right! Lots of birds and animals forage for food. So my short height meaning I have to leave the fruit I can’t reach on top of the tree is a good thing! Especially when you think about the fact that birds, bees and animals are struggling at the moment. The RSPCA suggested we leave a portion of our garden to go wild and have a small shallow pond there for wildlife. Which is something I intend to do when we finally get round to doing the garden!
So with all these elderberries what was I going to do! I did think about making cordial but my sister-in-law suggested making a cough syrup as elderberries are good for coughs and colds. So I attempted it and it came out a bit watery. I think next time, I’ll put in less water and honey instead of some of the sugar.
I have two jam jars full in the fridge ready for RiverSystem’s next bout of man flu!
There are lots of recipes on the internet but I used this one from the Woodland Trust. According to the Woodland Trust, it will last in properly sterilised jars in the fridge for up to a year.
Being one of those people that hates waste, I wanted to make use of the left over mush from the elderberries and ginger. I had made a chocolate cake while I was cooking the syrup and as our vanilla essence had somehow got lost in the move, I thought the elderberries and ginger were a perfect substitute! So I made the butter icing with that and it was amazing! Just for your edification, I’ve listed my ingredients below. My method is usually to stick it all in the same bowl and mix it up with my handheld mixer.
You Will Need
- 200g Icing Sugar.
- 120g Warm Unsalted Butter. (For multiplying quantities, I usually divide the icing sugar by 2 and then the resulting figure by 5 and add those 2 figures together. So: 200/2=100 100/5=20 100+20=120g)
- 1 Tablespoon of mashed elderberries and finely chopped ginger.
- 1 tablespoon of the cough syrup you made earlier. (For colour.)
If you want the chocolate cake recipe, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow! *Insert evil laugh here*