Wednesday 19 September 2012

Spiced Elderberry Cordial

If you live in the Northern hemisphere, have you made use of the abundance of free food that is available at this time of year? Unless you live somewhere deep in the city, you will be able to find trees laden with fall fruit if you go on a walk. Even if you are a townie, have you checked your local park? You might just find that you discover elderberries, rowan berries, rose hips and other delicacies just waiting to be picked. 

Some fruit, like blackberries, are easily identifiable. For others, you might want to consult a nature guide in order to avoid upset stomachs or worse. As a rule: if you are not 100% sure what you are looking at, do not pick and cook with it, okay?

Marco and I went walking on the local river marshes on the weekend. I took some plastic containers just in case we might happen upon a harvesting opportunity. I was rewarded. We came home with a good amount of rose hips and elderberries, and a handful of blackberries.

The blackberries were consumed as compote straight away, I am going to turn the rose hips into syrup using Big Home Bird's recipe, and I made the elderberries into cordial. Wild berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, so this cordial is going to come in handy as the weather turns colder and the lurgies are just waiting to spring themselves on us.

To harvest elderberries, take some kitchen scissors with you and cut them off the tree just above the fruits. At home, you can easily get the berries off the stalks by running the prongs of a fork along them. Make sure to boil the elderberries really well and do not feel tempted to try them raw. First of all they will be very bitter, second of all, they will give you a tummy ache. 

The cordial will taste nice on its own, diluted with some hot water. Or you could add it to a variety of alcoholic beverages, like sparkling wine or as a mixer for vodka and gin.

SPICED ELDERBERRY CORDIAL (makes about 400 ml)


600g elderberries, washed and off the stalks
2 cinnamon sticks, slightly bashed
5 cloves
1 allspice berry
1 lemon, juice
3/4 cups dark brown soft sugar (or to taste)


Place the elderberries in a medium pot and cover with water, to about a finger's width. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure to turn the heat down low, as the juice easily boils over.

Remove from heat and carefully strain through a fine sieve into a large measuring jug. Press the pulp down with a spoon to get as much juice as possible out of the berries. You should end up with about 500ml of liquid. If you have significantly less, top up with some more water.

Return the juice to the cleaned pot and add the spices, the lemon juice and the sugar. Heat up over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to a rapid boil and let bubble uncovered over a high heat for about 10 minutes. This will slightly reduce the liquid and make the cordial more concentrated.

Prepare a large-enough bottle and again strain the cordial into it, using a funnel. Be careful with this as the cordial will be very hot and stain anything that is not wipe-clean.

If you sterilize your bottle before filling it, you should be able to keep the cordial in a dark cool place for a few weeks, only refrigerating it after it has been opened. Otherwise, it will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks.

© Text & Photos - Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated).

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I am totally going to try this (I missed out on blackberries, my dog hates foraging so I need a team of helpers)


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