Forage for Elderberries to make a syrup

elderberry elderberries syrup forage foraging september virus protection flu jam jars sterilise recipe

At this time of year the hedgerows are heaving with elderberries. Make your own Elderberry syrup to help protect you and your family from colds and flu. I like to take it daily by the spoon or I use it as a delicious topping to pancakes and desserts.

Foraging for elderberries

Start by picking as many elderberries as you can find. They often grow in large bushes around the edges of footpaths and fields. If you can, avoid picking them from the edges of busy roads because they pick up pollution from car exhausts. They are easily recognisable due to the fact that they look like little red umbrella shape branches with the berries at the ends.

I usually try to pick elderberries that I can see at or just above eye level. This is because any lower and they could have been peed on by a passing dog, or at traffic exhaust level. Most importantly I leave the highest elderberries for the birds to eat because this is their larder!

For my foraging walks I arm myself with a bag or basket and a small pair of scissors. Sometimes I even bring a small step up stool with me. Snip the sprigs off on the stalk just above the umbrella part of the sprig.

Rinse the elderberries

I like to aim for a decent large basin volume of elderberry sprigs. Next I use a fork to remove all of the berries from the sprigs into a large bowl.

You can do this by sliding the fork along the sprig from the stalk down to the berries, the tines of the fork do an excellent job of removing multiple berries at a time.

I often end up with purple hands at this stage! Consequently you might want to use gloves. Fill the bowl with water and leave the berries to soak.

Making the elderberries syrup


elderberry elderberries syrup forage foraging september virus protection flu jam jars sterilise recipe

Now drain the elderberries and transfer them to a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover them – only just. At this stage you can add some lovely warm and fragrant spices to add to the flavour of your syrup. I like to add – some grated ginger, a cinnamon stick and a few cloves. Next, bring the elderberries to the boil and then turn down the heat to simmer the elderberries for 15 – 20 minutes.


I use a jay cloth or other clean cloth such as a muslin and line a sieve into a measuring jug. Now squeeze as much liquid through the cloth as possible with gloved hands. Alternatively use the back of a metal spoon to push it through.

elderberry elderberries syrup forage foraging september virus protection flu jam jars sterilise recipe


You will need to add approximately 400g of sugar for every 500ml of liquid that you manage to collect in the measuring jug.

Next, clean the saucepan and then pour the sugar, strained elderberry liquid and lemon juice back in. Bring it up to the boil and gently simmer for about 10 mins until all the sugar has dissolved.

elderberry elderberries syrup forage foraging september virus protection flu jam jars sterilise recipe


Leave the syrup to cool completely before you add it to small bottles or jars.

elderberry elderberries syrup forage foraging september virus protection flu jam jars sterilise recipe

Whilst the liquid is cooling, you could make sure you have some clean sterilised jars or bottles. I leave the jars open end towards the back of a low heat oven (gas mark 1 or lowest electricity setting). Instead you could run it through the dishwasher or use a baby sterilising fluid.

elderberry elderberries syrup forage foraging september virus protection flu jam jars sterilise recipe


I label my bottles with stickers or sharpie marker pens. I like to put the date and ingredients on. You can store the syrup in the fridge or freeze it- perhaps in an ice cube tray for small portion sizes and ease of access.

Ingredients list:

Cinnamon stick, grated ginger, grated nutmeg, cloves ( all optional)
Caster sugar
Lemon juice (of 1/2 – 1 lemon)

Instructions at a glance

I’ve included this very brief instructions list because personally I hate to follow a wordy recipe. The above instructions should be helpful on first reading, but after that the brief instructions below should be all you need.

  1. Forage
  2. Rinse
  3. Boil with spices 15-20mins
  4. Filter
  5. Add sugar and lemon juice
  6. Simmer 10 mins or until sugar has dissolved
  7. Sterilise jars
  8. Cool
  9. Funnel syrup into the jars

Find out more about Elderberries, where to find them and their health benefits here on the Country file website.

For more ideas on recipes written by me. Check out my recipes page here

recipe recipes how to make cook learn to children kids family fussy eaters

Make your rubbish work for you – and help the earth.

reuse rubbish planter

Some creative uses for your rubbish

We all know of the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” Here are some creative ideas to help make your rubbish work for you before consigning it to landfill where it will likely remain for hundreds of years.

Before you throw something away … think “what could I use this for in a different way before I consign it to landfill”

Some examples of how I make my rubbish work for me for again and again before I chuck it out.

reuse wellie boots welly boots wellington boots planter plants landfill eco friendly uses refuse
  • Old wellies – plant some pretty flowers or herbs into them. Don’t forget to drill or cut some holes and add some pebbles in the bottom for drainage.
  • Toilet rolls. Can be used for plating seedlings directly in to the ground as they will decompose. They can also be used to help store cables and keep them tidy in a storage box. A bit like a honeycomb design.
  • Yogurt pots – use these for seedlings or as paint holders.
  • Egg shells – wash, and blend – add to compost or sprinkle on top of the soil to nourish your plants and also deter snails.
  • Banana skins – dry them out in the bottom of your oven, blend and add to your plants. A great source of potassium- especially good for tomatoes.
  • Water from fish tank – use to water your garden. A great source of nitrogen.
reuse fabric old clothes scrunchie scrunchy make your own pretty hair accessories homemade  landfill eco friendly uses refuse scraps
  • Old stained clothes – cut them up and use as cleaning cloths
  • Pretty / sentimental clothes. Cut them up and sue as craft projects – turn them into scrunchies, blankets, rugs, cushions – the possibilities are endless.
  • Christmas / birthday cards – cut them up and use as gift tags
  • Ribbons inside new clothes – use these for craft projects or for tying gift tags to presents
baby bottle measures measure salad dressings plastic landfill eco friendly uses refuse
  • Baby feeding bottles – are excellent for making salad dressings or measuring our smaller amounts of liquids for cooking. They have smaller increments marked than a jug. They also benefit from the screw top lid which can be helpful for storing things.
  • Plastic fruit trays are great for planting seedlings in as well as storage dividers in the fridge.
  • Net vegetable / fruit bags. I stuff these inside one another until I have a big firm ball and then tie it at each end and use as a scourer for washing up or cleaning with.
  • Envelopes – old envelopes can be cut into strips and used for shopping lists and to-do lists.
cereal box cat litter tray liner reuse  rubbish landfill eco friendly uses refuse
  • Cereal boxes – can be flat packed and used for many craft projects. I also find they make excellent liners form y cat litter tray. They don’t get too soggy and can be removed from the tray easily. Also, the cats don’t shred card like they do with newspaper.
  • Milk bottles and washing up bottles – rinse and dry out. Use to store your homemade garden fertiliser or cut off the bottoms, and remove the lid, turn upside down and insert the neck of the bottle into the ground near to a plant – add a few pebbles to stop the bottle from getting clogged. Use this as a vessel to drip feed water to your plants – especially helpful if your plants are surrounded by a weed membrane which can make watering difficult.
reuse  rubbish landfill eco friendly uses refuse loo roll toilet rolls cardboard seedlings planters decompose
reuse  rubbish landfill eco friendly uses refuse toothbrush old cleaning tool
  • Lemon skins – add to white vinegar and steep for a few weeks – use as a cleaning product.
  • Bread bags – use these as tiny bin liners for the bathroom pedal bins.
  • Old toothbrushes – an excellent cleaning tool!
reuse  rubbish landfill eco friendly uses refuse jam jar glass
  • Jam jars can be reused for tea light candles indoors or outdoors, they can be used to store herbs and spices, pens, pickles, sugar, beads, buttons, sweets, chocolates, treats, soaps, bath salts, decorated and filled as gifts, water for painting with – the list is endless – I never chuck our jars.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration here, I’d love to hear more ideas on how you make your rubbish work for you. Please share so that I can add to my arsenal !

For more ideas on affordable changes you can make, head over to my new eco-friendly one stop shop to help you make changes that won’t cost the earth.