Thursday, 13 September 2012

Elderberry Portal

During our recent Stonehenge walk, we noticed a lovely load of Elderberries hanging off a group of trees. Elder has a suitably ancient and mystical bent; it is occasionally known as the fairy tree.
The flowers arrive just in time to provide Summer drinks for picnics (or Pickniks). Later, around September, Elderberries ripen; they are poisonous raw but become very useful when processed.
A Positive Abundance of Elderberries but No Container!
Last year I made Elderberry Port and this has proved to be my best country wine to date. If I were a wine connoisseur I might describe it as eerily full bodied with a magical reminiscence of rubenesque berry fruits, a delightfully gay nose leaving a lingering unfathomable essence… It is proving very popular and I felt that it was high time to replenish our depleted wine cellar.
We decided to go to Southampton Common, to hunt for Elderberries. This is where we had gathered our Elder flowers earlier in the year but it seemed that the blackbirds had filled their boots before we arrived.
We fell back on picking Blackberries, which were very abundant and we were pleased to meet several other families doing the same thing. The Old Graveyard on the common seemed a specially popular spot too; we even discovered Raspberries there.
Butterflies seem to like Blackberries as much as Plums
I was beginning to think that we had left it too late for the Elderberries, but eventually had a fruitful forage in Hedge End during my lunch-hour. I ferried the berries home in my sandwich box each day and froze them in batches, until we had a sufficient amount.
We also picked a good amount on Danebury Iron Age hill fort (always a great spot for a picnic and run about).
Ready For Freezing
I'm now just waiting for my yeast to arrive in the post before going to work on this little hoard. Elderberries can also be used to make jam, syrup, wine, magical potions etc…


  1. This time the butterfly is a Comma. We are leaving our Elderflower Champagne till Christmas. Dad got some wine bottles to put it in and I will decorate the bottles. What else can you do with Elderberries?

  2. Hi Eleanor.
    Thanks for the butterfly id.
    Do makje sure your dad's wine bottles are suitably "pressure safe" as you can see from my film - a big force can build up, that cork went clean over the house! "Ordinary" wine bottles can expolde.
    My port is well under way and I will blog it soon. You can also make jams, cordials, syrups and probably magic potions out of elderberries but do not eat them raw, they can be poisonous this way.