My fascination with foraging in all its forms goes back to my childhood summers in Germany. My grandfather took me on many walks through the forest where we picked blackberries and “hunted” for edible mushrooms. My family will tell you that “mushroom hunting” is a bit of an obsession with me. I’ve had my husband pull the car over just to inspect a few mushrooms...

When we moved to England, I discovered elderflowers and love making elderflower cordial – perfect with sparkling water or especially – a gin and tonic!


At this time of year though, the berries on the elder tree are ripe and ready to be gathered. You might have purchased a cough syrup or other remedy containing sambucus – but why pay for it when you probably have it in your own garden or just down the lane?

The elderberry is remarkably safe for the whole family and contains plenty of Vitamin C and Iron – just what we all need as they days become shorter, darker and colder! It has numerous uses but I recommend taking it at the very start of a cold – you can take a teaspoonful at a time every few hours. It is anti-inflammatory, useful for coughs and colds, fevers, sinusitis, tonsillitis, croup, asthma,  etc. – just about all of winter’s ills.

Elderberry Elixir adapted from Kiva Rose (www.bearmedicineherbals.com)

1 cup elderberries (dried) or two cups fresh

½ cup dried elderflowers*

¼ cup rose hips fresh or 2 T dried*

3 T fresh ginger grated

2 T licorice (I get the powdered root)*



1 l jar

*I buy dried herbs usually from Neal’s Yard (Oxford) or online

Mix all the herbs together and place in the jar. Cover with honey until fully saturated; then fill with brandy. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks in a dark cupboard. Strain and use by the dropperful or teaspoon.

PS: Always make sure your sources of berries, etc. are collected far from polluted roads and waterways and not from nature reserves or private property!