Guest post from our foraging guru Christopher Robbins!
Elderberries are all but totally ignored on this island, despite being the most versatile and most delicious of all wild fruits. Their colour is ravishing and they can be put to many valuable uses. The season usually runs from September to mid-October, depending on local geography and weather. This year elderberries are showing up a bit earlier than usual, so make sure the season doesn't pass you by!
- Use the berries as you would black currants or blackberries. You can combine them with apples in charlottes, pies, and crumbles. They add both luscious flavour and gorgeous colour.
- Fold elderberries into a bread dough. For a sweet treat, either add to a sweet dough or mix the berries with sugar before adding.
- Swirl your elderberry syrup into ice cream or make a stunning elderberry sorbet.
- Substitute the syrup for expensive and over-rated cassis. It can also replace Angostura bitters in gin or vodka.
- Add a dash of syrup to champagne for a forager's kir. A bit of syrup also takes cider to the next level.
- Brew up some of Andy Hamilton's elderberry liqueur! It's easy to make...but not easy to wait five months!
- Go with tradition and try your syrup by the spoonful for cold or flu relief, or add to hot water for a comforting night-time drink. Foodie friend Carol commented on the blog that adding cloves and/or ginger to the syrup is great for winter coughs and colds!
- Tuck away an excellent elderberry jelly to use on bread or as a relish with baked vegetables or cheese as you might cranberry or rose-hip jelly.
- Make a rich chutney, which is best combined only with vine fruits and not too much spice other than a good garam masala, or just mace, cinnamon and a light touch of cardamom.
- Go back in time with pontack sauce, a traditional elderberry ketchup. (We'd leave out the anchovies, of course.) [EatWeeds]
- Try an elderberry balsamic vinegar [EatWeeds] and adorn your salad with Monica Shaw's elderberry vinaigrette. Monica's tip: try the balsamic vinegar on a pizza!
Oh, and best not to eat it raw as it is cathartic. Only a teaspoon of fruits may produce an...uncomfortable response. You have been warned!