Like fat purple flies in a sinewy red web

This weekend I made my first ever batch of elderberry cordial. I just love the way that elderberries hang from the trees, like fat purple flies suspended in a sinewy red web. Every autumn I think about foraging them, but I never seem to remember to take anything to collect them in.

There’s something I find deeply satisfying about wrapping up warm and pulling on the wellies to go out for a countryside walk with the family, especially in the autumn. This weekend was perfect for it; clear skies, a slight chill in the air and just enough sun to keep us snug. And this week I packed a container for the elderberries – even better.

The boys love exploring the woods at Nidd Gorge

 We live in Harrogate, and often walk down to Nidd Gorge which is a place of outstanding beauty. There is an old railway line that leads you there, and on the way my eagle eyes spotted the elderberry bush. Collecting the berries was certainly no easy task, as the best ones were right at the top. The husband was trying to lower branches with a clamber, jump and a yank. We even resorted to sitting the kids on our shoulders to reach up and grab them.

Annoyingly, after all the effort we’d put into climbing trees and swinging on branches to collect the elderberries, on the journey home we discovered an elderberry bush in a garden at the end of our street – abundant with berries, all within easy reach.

And so we foraged some more.



Look at all those berries!
Don’t look at the dirty scales!

Removing the berries from the stems was quite a lengthy task. I used a fork to help me, which resulted in an enfilade of berries shooting off in every direction. In the end I had 1.2kg of them – WOW! It does hurt to admit that only 200g of those were from the trees on the walk, and the other kilogram was from the house at the end of the street. I had to make sure that all the twigs were picked out (apparently they contain cyanide-eek). To my horror one of the twigs i picked up started to wriggle its legs. I screamed. Hubby thought it was cool and put it into a tub for the eldest to take into school! We’ve spent the week telling everyone it’s a stick insect, but after a quick google search I found out it’s a moth larvae. I’m even more grossed out now. I HATE moths…..shudder.


Not a stick insect – a moth larvae.

 After I had recovered from the trauma of a twig coming to life, I got back to making the cordial as follows: 

  • wash the berries.
  • put in pan and just cover with water.
  • simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • put through a sieve/jam muslin to seperate juice from berries – make sure all the juice is squeezed out of the berries.
  • add 500g of granulated sugar and 10 to 15 cloves for every 500ml(or 1pint) of liquid.
  • simmer for a further 15 minutes (make sure the sugar dissolves)
  • allow to cool and pour into sterilised bottles.(take out the cloves first if you wish)

I collected 1.2kg berries which gave me 3pints of liquid. To that I added 1.5kg sugar. I bottled approximately 2.5litres.

The whole family find it very tasty which is fantastic as it’s packed full of vit.C and proven to help the body fend off colds and flu. Perfect!


About mrssloanqueenofscones

Yorkshire born and bred.

2 responses »

  1. nohreen says:

    I apologise that my pictures are vertically challenged. They were from my phone, and no matter what i do they will not go in right!

  2. […] cordial is a new one for me. I had made a mental note to give elderflowers a whirl, after making elderberry cordial last autumn. In fact, elderberry cordial was the subject of my first blog post. Of course, the mental note was […]

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