I find it a rather curious thing that the most popular blog post on Agents of Field is my natural cold remedy, Blackberry Syrup. The bottle I made in 2015 has served me well through two winters, and I still have a tiny drop left. I can certainly say that when I remembered to take a spoonful of the mixture, it seemed to do the trick if I felt a cold coming on, although I’d be lying if I said it was the only cold remedy I’ve taken in the last two years.
Judging by the popularity of the post, it seems people are keen to tackle common ailments with natural ingredients, something I find rather heartening. With this in mind, this year, I’ve decided to stock my medicine cabinet with a different home-brew to keep me healthy throughout the winter.
Elderberry syrup is a very well-known natural cold remedy and a quick Google search will bring up many different recipes if you plan to make some yourself. Although fiddly to prepare, the fruit are packed with nutrients, containing far higher quantities of vitamin C than blackberries, as well as high levels of vitamin K, plus they stimulate the immune system and are a tonic for the blood. These unassuming little berries are a health-boosting powerhouse, but they can also be toxic, so it’s worth reading this handy guide before using them.
I took a trip to my local park to forage for berries from the same tree that gave me the fragrant blossoms for my elderflower cordial earlier in the summer, generous little plant that it is.
I used an elderberry syrup recipe from a book I was recently given. It required me to boil up the berries in water along with some spices before bottling it and adding raw honey. It’s quite delicious actually; I’m not sure whether some of the fruit had already started to turn before I cooked them, as it already has a slightly fermented, almost alcoholic edge. I can’t imagine the shelf-life will be very long as I didn’t add any sugar to act as a preservative, but I’ll be administering this medicine differently to the blackberry syrup I made, taking a spoonful a day as the recipe advises, so it shouldn’t need a long shelf-life. Let’s see if it works and keeps me cough-and-cold-free for the rest of the year.
I shall report back!