Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Thank you for all your comments on my last post.
I was quite taken aback by the amount of comments expressing amazement at my 'busyness'.
I didn't feel that I'd been particularly busy. I was trying to illustrate how with no job, and no small children around it is easy to fit things like breadmaking around the usual shopping, laundry and taking kids to the doctor's because their necks have popped. There is also plenty of time for sitting on the sofa surfing the internet, and blogging.

After breakfast this morning I took my basket round the corner to the spot where I picked elderflowers in June for elderflower cordial. Luckily I didn't pick all the flowers and so there were plenty of berries to pick today for elderberry robb.

Elderberry robb is another name for elderberry syrup. I used the recipe in Sarah Raven's book Food For Friends and Family. It was very easy, a matter of cooking the berries with a tiny amount of water, straining the juice and then cooking the juice with sugar until syrupy. 

Elderberries are supposed to be excellent against colds, coughs, and sore throats. They are full of vitamin C.
The berries are mildly toxic when raw. The green parts of the elder are also toxic. As you can see some of the tiny stalks have escaped my fork. My research suggests that these won't cause a problem but I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who has left these little stalks on their berries and lived to tell the tale.

I decided that rather than bottling my syrup I would freeze it in ice cube trays. I didn't think we'd use up a whole bottle before it went off.

It occurred to me that sucking on a frozen cube of syrup might be very welcome if one had a sore throat. 

Ice cubes made me think of ice lollies.
I added some lemon juice and diluted it a bit with water and poured the rest of the syrup into an ice lolly mould.

I thought this was a brilliant idea -ice lollies for sore throats that would heal and soothe, however I have just pulled the cubes of syrup out of the freezer to make a hot drink for Charlie who has a cold and I discover that the syrup has not frozen at all (nothing wrong with the freezer) . The lollies look a bit more promising perhaps because of the extra water in them. I hope so. I will check them tomorrow.
Anyway Charlie has drunk his elderberry robb and says it is nice, but if he asks me what kind of berries are in it one more time I will thump him.


The lollies have frozen solid, if a little stickily. I have removed them from their moulds and stored them in a plastic box in the freezer. 
I'm almost looking forward to getting a cold now.


  1. Oh, send some syrup over here - I have a properly horrid sore throat.

    Had not heard that raw elderberries are mildly toxic. As a child I was eat them for hours on end straight off the tree! I love them. I'd eat the little green stalky bits too in my greediness to get to the berries....

  2. Like the ice cube/lolly idea Sue! In all this hot weather I've been making & munching on homemade lollies too but not elderberry ones... I'm thinking of making elderberry jelly this year- any tips?

  3. I think that is a great idea for the Dragons Den, an all natural, medicinal Ice lolly. A bit like my medicinal Blackberry Brandy! Very good for coughs, slight wheezes or just taken regularly as a preventative!

    1. IntheSky, would you mind sharing your Blackberry Brandy recipe please? Thank you!

  4. I find it really hard to get elderberries in Cornwall Sue because it tends to be so mild that they ripen and drop almost instantly. Interesting about it not freezing but I love the idea of lollies for sore throats. I do love your posts m'dear!

  5. what a brilliant idea hope i can still find some elderberries youve inspired me to give it a go.

  6. Lucky you, I'm hoping there are still some left for us at Half Term, I hate taking them from London. Oops, and I didn't know the raw berries were toxic, we've all been eating them and we're still here to tell the tale. A bit mad perhaps, but still breathing!

  7. Elderberry robb sounds good. I wonder whether some water and agar agar would turn it into jelly. And maybe some vodka added to that would turn it into grown-up sophisticated jelly?

  8. I've also survived raw berries, but they're not that pleasant to eat.

  9. What a good idea. We seem to have a shortage of elderberries round here this year (possibly too much elderflower champagne produced in the summer!) so there wasn't enough to make the jelly I was planning, but you could make syrup from a relatively small amount, couldn't you.

  10. What a great idea, i bet it is super good for you.
    hope Charlie is feeling better soon
    love jooles x

  11. You are so lucky to be able to get elderberries, the trees here don't appear to have any (either picked early or people took too many elderflowers!)
    I have such wonderful memories of elderberry wine which the nuns made for us at prep school! (I'm sure to prevent homesickness!)

  12. I loved reading yesterday's post--you sound like you love being at home and I am wistful for when I was doing the same thing. Of course, a lot of days I spent on the couch reading and getting nothing else done!

  13. Pati from London9:49 am BST

    You clever cookie!! Loads of brilliant ideas! Great inspiration Sue. Reading your blog first thing in the morning is perfect for my first cuppa of the day, X Pati

  14. Never thought of the ice cube idea!!! I made some syrup up early last month and usually just add a teaspoon to a cup of hot water as a drink.
    x x x

  15. The ice cube idea didn't really work as the syrup won't freeze -too much sugar? It will, however be preserved in the freezer although I'm not convinced it has a short a shelf life as my recipe suggests considering how much sugar is in it. I decanted the syrup from the ice cube trays into little tubs instead where it will make less mess.

  16. I think the syrup will be fine in the fridge over the winter months. I've never had a problem and store it alongside rosehip syrup. As you mention, the sugar quantity is the preservative.

  17. I have encountered problems when bits of stalk are left in the syrup (of a bathroom nature) so would always recommend removing all of them. I have syrup from two years ago, still in good condition so find it hard to understand the 'shelf life' problem.

    If you run out there is a commercial product available that also has zinc in it, very good for alleviating cold and 'flu.

  18. Thanks Deb and Toffeeapple for your advice.

    So far Charlie has been the only one to try the syrup. He hasn't reported any problems!

  19. Let us hope it stays that way!

  20. I had a big swig of our eldererry robb when we got back from a walk tonight-I made it a few weeks ago. I love Sarah R's book. Today is the first time I have tried it, so much thicker than I thought it would be, I practically had to spoon it into my mouth. I bet it is blimmin good stuff. It must be rib stickingly good being that thick!x

  21. I have a nasty cold and one of these would just do the trick to sooth my throat and cough...too bad we are ocean's apart!

  22. Scientific fact - elderberries contain a chemical that kills viruses. I would go so far as to speculate that the whole plant contains something of that nature, since an ancient remedy for warts is to rub them with a freshly broken elder twig - getting the sap onto the wart. Which is caused by a virus.

  23. I have included a photo and link to this in my list "What to do with Elderberries".
    Hope that's ok with you?
    Great post, thanks for sharing.


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