After reading about Elderberry syrup on this Garlic Breath (from These Days in a French Life) and on David's fantastic blog I got inspired as I started to see these bunches of black gems weighing down tree boughs in the countryside. Both of these blogs were talking about making elderberry syrup a good month before our Norman berries were ripe... I tried to scope out where I could go foraging... Yesterday the sun was out and after tinkering with my new/old sewing machine (mine broke about 6 months ago and I only just got around to sending it back - still under warrenty - thanks Lidl!) I decided I needed to get out of the house.
Armed with scissors, a plastic bag and my podcasts I took a long walk all around V-town. I tried going down side streets where I thought I might find some trees... only blackberries. Nope, not today, save those for another time, I was after Elderberries.
I found a big tree in an abanndoned lot and managed to bend some of those hard to reach ripe berries down to picking level. I got a whole bag full and on my walk home found another tree, but these ones were wayyy to far out of reach.
Apparently elderberries are really good for you, if cooked and if you avoid the green berries/leaves/bark which apparently contain cyanide! Go figure. I read up a lot, making sure I wasn't picking some random berry that would kill me in my sleep and when I was sure I got ones that looked exactly like the real thing I set to work. Piece of cake, I boiled the berries with some water, a squirt of lemon juice and a little sugar for a good 45 minutes letting them stew a bit. Then I let the mixture cool a bit, ladled it into an old t-shirt and wrung the berries dry. I got a good bit of juice out of them. Then I added 1/2 their weight in sugar and boiled it a bit longer. When it cooled it was thicker but still not a really thick syrup. I'm curious to try it in some of the ways suggested, in yogurt, over ice cream, in water. Apparently it really boosts your immune system, good for winter and this dreaded Grippe A...