Blackberry Syrup: A Natural Cold Remedy

I wanted to do something different with the blackberries I’d picked from the hedgerows this year and was rather intrigued when I came across a recipe for Blackberry Syrup, an old-fashioned remedy for coughs and colds.

Blackberries

I altered the recipe slightly before whipping up a bottle of the stuff.  I’m now setting myself the challenge of getting through the winter season without reaching for my usual aspirin-laden cold relief!

Blackberry Syrup 1

The syrup combines blackberries, which are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, with white wine vinegar and honey, both known for their antibacterial and antiviral properties. I’m a big believer in feeding yourself healthy, of eating the right things to counter any ailment or imbalance, so I’ll be interested to see if this curious concoction with all its health-boosting ingredients, manages to banish the inevitable sniffles this winter.

I’ll keep you posted!

SophieSignature

Making Blackberry Syrup

BLACKBERRY SYRUP

450 g blackberries
280 ml white wine vinegar
225 g sugar
115 g honey

Place the blackberries in a bowl (glass or china preferably, to avoid staining) and pour the vinegar over. Leave to stand for at least 24 hours, stirring and pressing the berries regularly.

Strain the mixture through muslin, squeezing out as much juice as you can, into a saucepan.

Bring to the boil.

Add the sugar, stirring constantly to ensure it all dissolves, and then add the honey, continuing to stir well.

Bring to a hard boil for 5 minutes before leaving to cool.

Store in a bottle or in ice-cube trays in the freezer.

Add 1-2 tablespoons to a glass of hot water before bed.

(Click here for a print-friendly version. Adapted from the Blackberry Syrup recipe included in this collection.)

Blackberry Bounty

Nothing conjures up Autumn in my mind quite like blackberries. Although the blackberry season actually starts in August and continues until October, I always associate the fruit with September, when the hedgerows are thickly laden with them, along with hips and haws and other jewel-like bounty.

Long before we took on our allotment, in fact, long before I became remotely interested in gardening, I  would always have an urge for blackberry-picking come Autumn.  Maybe it was my long suppressed hunter-gatherer instincts coming to the fore; the one occasion when I could let Neanderthal Sophie loose in the great outdoors, foraging for wild food.

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In the five years we’ve been living here on the outskirts of London, I have made an annual pilgrimage to the fields near our home, in search of blackberries. The hedgerows are always full of them, and I’m continually amazed that more people don’t pick them. It’s not like foraging for mushrooms where you need to have a specialist understanding of where to find them, what’s edible and what’s poisonous. Blackberries are safe, and they’re all over the place!

I took a quick trip up to the fields the other day, and armed with an empty ice-cream tub, I picked about 500g of the beauties. This would have cost me a few quid in the supermarket and they wouldn’t have had nearly as much flavour.

I usually bake them into Blackberry & Coconut Squares, a super-easy and delicious recipe which I discovered a few years back, and I also keep a bowlful in the fridge for sprinkling into yoghurt or stirring into hot porridge with honey. But this year, I teamed them with some Bramley apples my neighbour gave me, and made jam, using an old Beryl Wood recipe.

Blackberry Collage

The blackberry season has been particularly early this year, and is sadly coming to an end where we are, but if you’re lucky enough to still have them growing near you, I’d highly recommend picking some. Just don’t forget the golden rules of blackberry-picking:

1) Make sure you’re not trespassing on private land!

2) Avoid picking blackberries near busy roads (exhaust fumes do them no favours) or close to the ground (animals may have urinated on them).

3) Don’t stack the berries too highly on one another when picking; the ones at the bottom will bruise and turn squashy.

4) Don’t deplete the hedgerows entirely, leave some for the birds and other animals.

5) Give the blackberries a good soak when you get home. I usually steep mine for an hour in salted water which dislodges all the beasties, before giving them a good rinse. In my experience, this has never diminished the flavour of the blackberries but is incredibly effective in evicting any unwanted tenants!

Happy foraging,
SophieSignature