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Elderberry goodness

Use elderberries to ward off colds and 'flu this winter

(not my image)

If you're walking out and about in the UK and northern hemispheres, you will see these gorgeous, blackish-blue berries popping out of hedgerows.

Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are a fantastic, vitamin-packed medicine to have ready at home for any colds, influenza and other chest infections.

The best way to take elderberry is to make a syrup.

Simply pick bunches of elderberries when they are ripe and black, but not mushy. Leave some for the birds and thank the Elder for its abundant fruits. You might leave a little gift under the tree to show your gratitude.

Meanwhile, back at home...

Strip the berries off their stems with a fork, and pop them in a saucepan with half their volume of water.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool then strain out the juice using a muslin cloth or jelly bag. If you squeeze the juice out you will have a more cloudy syrup but this is fine.

For every 500ml of juice, add 250g sugar - brown sugar works nicely and gives it more depth of flavour. Add a teaspoon or stick of cinnamon, a few cloves and 2 or 3 slices of lemon. Simmer this mixture for another 20 minutes before straining and pouring into hot, sterilised bottles.

For colds, 'flu and infections, take 1 teaspoon every few hours. Or use it as a cordial for the little ones on a daily basis to boost their immune systems.

Warning: Make a lot, because it tastes really good and it won't last long!

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