Having gathered and enjoyed the blossoms of the Elder in early spring, she continues to give and support us.
Elderberries; these well known delicious jewels, appear at the end of summer/beginning of Autumn, a symbol (to me) of the work required now to see us through another winter and an enjoyable task in doing so.
Elderberries are a well know remedy for colds and flu, they are high in vitamin c and antioxidants and have anti inflammatory properties. Recent research shows they contain powerful antioxidants and stimulate the immune system (we already knew this). This has lead to the sale of Sambucol-taken from the Latin name of the Elder- being sold as an over the counter cold and flu remedy. It is Elderberry syrup. Not all that different from my own recipe, it prevents colds and flu and fights any symptoms you are already presenting e.g. coughs and sore throats. It also promotes perspiration which helps when fighting a fever.
The simplest way to use Elderberries is in Elderberry Syrup, this also keeps really well for use in winter months. I take myself on a long walk so I can gather from many trees, being sure to give thanks. I collect as much as possible usually between 1-2 kilos
- using a fork, strip the berries from the stalks
- add to a saucepan and just about cover with water
- bring to the boil,then reduce to a simmer for 30 mins or until the berries are soft
- strain out the berries and add the liquid back into the pan.
- for every 600ml of liquid add 450g of sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, a chunk of ginger and 10 cloves. Alternatively you can omit the sugar and make a more sour concoction known as a ‘rob’; handy if you have diabetic in the family.
- Boil hard for 10 minutes
The Syrup keeps fairly well in the fridge or better in ice cube trays in the freezer. add it to Crumbles, cocktails and deserts. In times of need I add it to hot toddies and tisanes but a spoonful at night is also effective.
The Elder Tree
There is much folklore surrounding the Elder tree; she is known as the ‘witches tree’ and there are many stories relating to this. Farmers and Canny Folk alike treat her with honor and respect. It is very bad luck to cut one down or take for selfish reasons.
Elder is Sacred to Samhain where the seasonal cycle moves into its crone time (you can read more about the cycles here) the gifts she offers us aid us in surviving through winter, as do many of the herbs and medicines we can harvest at this time; Autumn is the time for harvesting after all. Elder represents the beginning and the end, the full cycle of life, death and re-birth. She is connected to the crone/wise woman and the cauldron of re-birth as such, she must be treated with respect. Be sure to give thanks and leave offerings when taking what you need and never be selfish in doing so.