Elder is a shrub that grows throughout the countryside and in many gardens. Its attractive, large, white flower heads are great for aromatic cordials and its dark purple berries in autumn are rich in Vitamin C and immune-boosting bioflavonoids. Herbalists, naturopaths, and nutritionists use elderberry syrups to treat and prevent colds, flu, and sore throats, and to boost the immune system.
In summer, pour freshly boiled water over elderflower heads (around five times as much water as flower heads), steep, cool, and strain. Top up with sparkling water and sweeten to taste for a refreshing summer cordial or dab a little of the juice on the temples, said to ease headaches. In the autumn, place elderberries, a few slices of ginger, some cloves, and three teaspoons of demerara sugar in a pan and cover with water. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, then cool, strain, and bottle. Take one teaspoon every hour at first sign of a cold, flu, or sore throat and continue until better.
Consult a practitioner if you’re pregnant or lactating.