• Max

Elderberries: The Hedgerow Jewels

I had never foraged for anything before we had started Healthipops and what better way to start than with elderberries! They grow in abundance alongside Britain’s country lanes and woodlands during late summer/early autumn. We didn’t have to go far to look for them; a short 10-minute walk and there they were, ripe for the picking. The kids had fun and didn’t have to climb to pick them (phew! Note to self, make sure the kids wearing old clothes next time!).

These fantastic little berries grow on elder trees (Sambucus nigra) and are so easy to pick – but please do your homework first, there are lots of reputable sites to help with this. Elder branches, bark, and leaves should not be consumed, and the berries should be cooked and not eaten raw as cooking removes any toxins. To eat them raw can also cause stomach upsets. But don’t let that put you off!


Elderberries are amazing little berries; just a cup-full contains 870 mg of vitamin A, 406 mg of potassium, 52.2 mg of vitamin C, 9 mg of folate, 55 mg of calcium, 2.32 mg of iron as well as an excellent source of fibre. Antiviral and antioxidant properties are also present in these purple jewels, what’s not to love! With all these nutrients, it seemed a natural choice to include when creating our Healthipops relief range!


My Grandmother's Elderberry Jam Recipe

Gran's Elderberry Jam

There are lots of recipes for elderberries, but we made some jam with the foraged berries using a recipe my Grandmother gave me. It’s delicious on thick toasted seeded bread! Why not try it yourself:


Ingredients:

· 500g of elderberries

· 400g of jam sugar

· 1 tbsp of lemon juice


1. Pop a tea plate in the freezer, for testing the jam later.

2. Remove the berries from their stems with a fork, wash thoroughly removing any bits of leaf and stalk. (put down paper or an old towel so as not to stain your work surface!)

3. Place the elderberries in a heavy-based pan and gently crush with a potato masher, just enough to release some of the juices (the kids love this bit, but me clearing up after them not so much!).

4. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the pan and leave to simmer on a low heat. Keep stirring to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

5. Cook down for around 20 minutes, skimming the surface as you go. (this bit is more for the older kids or the adults).

6. To test if the jam is at the right consistency, remove the plate from the freezer, and place a small dollop of the jam on the plate. Put the plate in the fridge for a few minutes; if the jam forms a skin, it is ready, if not, return to the heat and keep repeating the test every 5–10 minutes until ready. (Gran used to say, “being impatient won’t make it work any quicker!” words I’ve already reiterated to our young ones! It’s not just recipe’s that get handed down!).

7. Spoon the jam into sterilised jars, and once thoroughly cooled, seal the jar and pop a label on it. The jam will keep in a cool dark place for one year, once opened keep in the fridge. These make great presents too. (the kids might like to help make the labels adding that extra personal touch).

8. Or leave the lid off for about 5 mins, while you put the kettle on, cut your bread and pop in the toaster, glide a thin covering of butter followed by a generous dollop of your very own jam! (sit back and relax letting and someone else tidies up after all your hard work!).


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