Autumn is my absolute favourite time of the year.
The golden glow of the leaves as they transform from luscious green, through golden yellow and russet red. Hedgerows groaning with the weight of jewel-like berries and fruits. Crisp walks, crunching through the leaves with rosy cheeks and a basket on your arm to scoop up the harvest crop which will see us through winter...
One of my favourite recipes is for fruit cordial made with juicy ripe blackberries and elderberries. I like it especially as it replaces Ruby's regular additive-laden squash, and for the time it lasts I know she's drinking pure goodness.
The fruit is not only jam packed with vitamin C, but elderberries contain a substance called Sambucol (and yes, Elder is used to make the drink Sambuca!) which is massively helpful in fighting 'flu. In fact, recent studies found that this substance is more effective at fighting the virulent strains of influenza than the commercial drug Tamiflu.
So, not only is it a delicious cordial, but try taking a dram neat daily to ward off 'flu, or making a hot toddy with it to ease the symptoms. It's also delicious added to meat gravy, and goes particularly well with pork.
The 'recipe' is more of a guide than a hard-and-fast recipe since it depends on how much fruit you manage to pick, and your own personal taste with regard to sweetness.
Some recipes call for the same weight of sugar as fruit, but personally that is WAY too sweet for my family, so I tend to use about 1 kilo of fruit to 5 large tablespoons of sugar. Taste it as you go, and adjust accordingly.
First wash your fruit. Then take the berries off the stalks and add to a large pan (I just pull the elderberries off by the handful - you're going to strain it anyway, so don't worry too much if you have tiny bits of stalk in). Add enough cold water to cover the fruit. Add your sugar and stir until dissolved.
Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for about 40 minutes - don't cook it too high or you'll end up with jam!
After about 40 minutes, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and leave overnight.
When cool, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, then strain through a muslin into sterilised bottles.
I keep my bottled cordial in the fridge so I don't worry too much about super-sterilising the bottles - I tend to run them through the dishwasher on a hot wash, then rinse out with boiling water.
To drink, dilute one part cordial to 4 parts water or tonic, and enjoy the winter 'flu free!
Linking up with Ta-Dah Tuesday!