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Elderberry

If you have a medium to large garden then it is worth considering planting Elderberry. It is easily propagated from cuttings picked from established bushes or trees in the spring. If not, then pick the fruits and flowers from the hedgerow. If sourcing from a field, please ask permission from the farmer before filling up a bucket or two. The Elder has been used in medicine for hundreds of years.

The leaves are useful as an insecticide. Place small bunches by doors and windows and lightly bruise each day. Ants particularly, do not like this plant.

The berries can be made into a fruit compote. Strip the berries from the stalks. Wash and place them into a saucepan with a small quantity of water (approximately two tablespoons). Add one or two tablespoonfuls of sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer slowly until the fruit is fully softened (around 15 minutes). Bottle the mixture into clean Kilner or jam jars. A spoon or two can be stirred into yoghurt, added to cereal or incorporated into cakes and puddings. Elderberries are especially useful for the treatment of feverish cold like symptoms.

The flowers may be made into an infusion. Pick the tiny individual flowers from the stems and add two teaspoonfuls to a cupful of boiling water. Allow to stand for five minutes then strain off the liquid. When the tea or infusion has cooled for a further twenty minutes, sip slowly. The mixture can be taken three times a day. The infusion is used for the treatment of hayfever (especially when taken for two months prior to the hayfever season), runny noses, catarrh, coughs, sore throats, allergies and many types of arthritis.

For years Elderberry Wine was regarded as a tonic. It is rich and strong and it is wise not to mix it with other alcoholic drinks.

*Never operate machinery or drive after drinking Elderberry Wine. Only consume the liquour in small amounts a third to a half of a sherry glass per day.

Below is a simple Elderberry Wine recipe that is easy to make.

Equipment: One fermentation brewing bucket with lid, wooden spoon, one gallon fermenting bottle or jar, fermentation trap including cork, wine bottles, new corks and labels.

*Never allow anything metal to come into contact with the wine mixture.

Elderberry Wine  - to make one gallon (8 pints)

Ingredients: 4 lb Elderberries, 1/2 lb Plums, 1/2 lb raisins, 2 lb sugar, yeast nutrient and activated wine yeast

Mash Elderberries - strain off juice and keep in a jar for later. Pour four pints of boiling water onto the Elderberry skins or pulp stirring continuously for five to six minutes. Strain off juice and place this into the fermentation brewing bucket. Add another two pints onto the skins and pulp, stir for a further five minutes then strain into the fermentation brewing bucket. Add to this bucket the saved juice, the washed Plums halved and stoned and the raisins. Stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Add a further two-and-a-half pints of boiled water to make up the difference. Allow to cool then add the yeast starter and ferment for seven to ten days. Stir each day with a wooden spoon and keep the container closely covered. This protects the wine must from vinegar flies.

Strain off the liquid and pour (or use a syphon) into a fermenting bottle and add fermentation trap (the trap needs to contain water to keep the wine safe). The bottle should have one inch of space from the liquid wine must to the cork. Leave for approximately six months (until the bubbling from the trap has stopped and the liquid looks clear) - but check regularly to make sure the trap has water in at all times or the wine will go sour and be undrinkable.

Syphon off the wine into clean wine bottles making sure that any residue remains at the bottom of the fermentation bottle, and cork (use new corks) and label.

 

Feverfew

Feverfew is a cottage garden herb that has been used for hundreds of years. Gather two young fresh leaves and add into a salad or sandwich as a maintenance in the prevention of migraine and headache. It is also believed to be helpful in the reduction of pain in some instances of rheumatism and arthritis.

Feverfew