Preparing for winter.
Nature is so clever. It provides us with what we need, when we need it. It’s there to help and prepare us for the future.
More and more I am learning about what different Trees, plants and herbs we can turn to and utilise to help ourselves and our family.
Throughout the year I am going to look at different plants that have medicinal properties in order to research, learn and see how I can incorporate them into our lives. Different months provide us with different plants, so each season I am going to experiment. I will take tried and tested previous folk recipes (maybe add my own touch) to make my own herbal medicines and incorporate plants into the skincare I make. I want to be more aware of my natural world and most importantly teach Hugo as he grows, how he can turn to nature to look after himself.
I want to make it tradition that as a family we go out to pick and make our own natural medicine, so that it is something Hugo is brought up knowing and can continue to pass on. As I previously said, become our own herbalist.
I am starting with The Elder tree, INCI – Sambucus nigra. Known as the “Peoples medicine chest” because it has many uses. Considered to be the grandmother tree (the elder) it is said that if an Elder tree grows in your garden it has come to protect and look after. You are not ever meant to chop an elder tree down as that is considered bad luck.
In herbal medicine the Elder tree has many uses.You can use the flowers for fever remedies, leaves in ointments for bruises and berries against colds and flu.
I want to pay particular attention to the Elderberry. The end of summer beginning of autumn brings elder berries. Just as we’re winding down ready for the long winter months, nature is ready, providing us with a berry that helps boost our immune system.
Elderberries contain iron, potassium, phosphorus, and copper, they are rich in flavonoid antioxidants as well as vitamins, A, B, and high levels of vitamin C. Its one powerful berry. By using this berry as a preventive, your preparing your immune system ready to fight of any colds and flu that may be lurking. Elderberries are effective in treating autoimmune disorders and immune depletion. When combined with ginger, They are also great for hormonal induced nausea (no more morning sickness)
For centuries folk have used elderberry syrup, tinctures and other forms as a regular tonic for the whole family in the winter months. Scientific evidence now proves elderberries fight the flu virus
With the strain and over use of medical resources and pharmaceuticals, alot of doctors are now telling us to turn to elderberries and echinacea (echinacea, another great plant to fight of cold and flu. I currently have a plant and will learn more about this down the line) for your first port of call. Why did we ever stop?
You just need to make Elderberry syrup, take a spoonful a day and you’re then flu free. (well this is what I am hoping)
How to Make Elder berry syrup
You will need –
Muscovado sugar or Honey
Cheese cloth or jelly bag
Stainless steel pan
Sterilised Glass bottle
1 – Go out and pick the Elderberries when they’re ripe (dark purple) be sure to ask the Elder trees permission to take its berries. Its only polite.
2 – Place only the ripe berries into a pan. avoiding all stems and leaves.
3 – Add half volume of fresh spring water to the Elderberries. simmer for 20 minutes Do Not Boil as this will remove some nutritional goodness. Mash the berries a little to release its juices.
4 – Get a cheese cloth or jelly bag. Pour the mixture through your cloth and squeeze all the juices into another bowl (your hands will go purple, it washes out after a few attempts) get every last drop then bin the elderberries.
5 – Measure the Elderberry liquid – for every 500ml add 250g of muscovado sugar. If you prefer you can use honey just add desired amount to taste. You can add a cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger, lemon or orange slices for flavour.
6 – Stir and simmer again for 20 minutes Do Not Boil. Strain off any added ingredients and bottle in a sterilised glass bottle.
7 – Enjoy. use your syrup as a spoonful of medicine everyday, a dash to make cordial, or drizzle over porridge or pancakes.
A word of warning –
Elderberries stain really bad so don’t wear your best clothes.
Elderberries are not great eaten raw, wait for the syrup. cooking neutralises and enhances there flavour. to many raw elderberries could make you sick.
Elderberry stems and leaves are toxic they contain cyanide. make sure you don’t get any in your pan. ingesting them could make you sick.
Always avoid picking flowers or berries that are on the road side (petrol fumes) or close to the ground (dogs could have weed on them.)
I would love to hear how others use the Elder tree.