Autumn (Fall to all those across the pond) brings about a change in our menu and many, many delicious things to eat and cook with like apples, nuts and stone fruits. I walk my dogs regularly in Belvoir Forest Park in Belfast and I’m constantly noticing various berries growing all around the walkways. One in particular appealed to me so before I chose to pick it, I checked with an expert that it was indeed edible! Clare McQuillan is a foraging queen and knows the ins and outs of what you can pick and where you can pick it in and around Belfast. She said they were elderberries and they would make a beautiful cordial so that’s exactly what I did with them and I was delighted with the results!
500g of elderberries
500g of water
350g of caster sugar
1/2 lemon, rind plus 1tbsp lemon juice
Remove the berries from the stems using a fork then wash them, removing any bits of stalk or leaf
Drain the berries and place in a pan along with the lemon rind. Cover with the water and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes, until the berries have broken down. Skim away any scum that appears on the surface
Strain the juice through a colander lined with muslin cloth set over a bowl. Gently press the berries to extract as much juice as possible
Return the juice to the pan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Gently heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved
Taste and add more sugar or lemon juice to your taste
Decant into a sterilised bottle and seal
I topped up my elderberries with some blackberries which I think deepened the dark rich colour of the final product. This would taste great added to some gin or Prosecco to make a delicious cocktail.
I added mine to some sparkling water with a few pomegranate seeds and a sprig of mint (purely for decoration) but I will definitely be trying it with some prosecco come the weekend. I can’t believe I am only happening upon this foraging movement at this late stage of the game, I’m hooked already! The satisfaction from start to finish has inspired me to learn more about the art of foraging so watch out for future posts of this nature!
Kai background by Black Velvet Styling