It’s Berry Good For You!
October 22, 2015

As anyone who reads this blog knows, despite my love of food, cooking isn’t my strong point. However, lucky for me I happen to know a few people who are seriously good cooks. One of these is my good pal Tracy O’Meara – best PA in the world by day, and at evening and weekends, she turns into supermum. Tracy’s agreed to share some of her fab recipes on Eat with Ellen, so without further ado, here she is:-

The season of coughs, colds and flu is fast approaching and no-one is safe from the dreaded viruses – especially if you have children at school or university – a breeding ground for germs if ever there was one (as is the office, the bus, the tube etc.). “Fresher’s flu” is particularly nasty and can be relied on to circulate efficiently throughout the household when brought home from uni by your partied-out/sleep-deprived child bearing gifts of washing.

Years of experience has shown me that a child can get a cold, be miserable for probably a day or two, then shake it off. However, they then pass the virus on to you and it mutates into a seriously nasty bug that leaves you wiped out for days, usually accompanied by an unsightly red, scaly nose and bags under the eyes…. So, it’s time to take some action (naturally)! Nature is a wonderful thing and has had plenty of time over the millions of years to tweak and adapt to things so, depending on the time of the year, it provides you with food, medicine, drink (oh yes!) and many other delights.

This month I’ve put pen to paper to share with you two recipes that help fight coughs and colds. I’m a busy working mum, so all my recipes have to follow three vital rules; they have to be easy, they have to be quick and they have to taste good.

Elderberries ready to be picked

Did you know the humble elderberry contains a really fantastic antidote to more strains of flu than Tamiflu can ever hope to achieve? Just one swig of this berry recipe a day could both help to immunise you against flu (although I have to point out that even nature cannot guarantee to be 100%) but it also tastes fantastic.

Apparently the berries contain Sambucol (from the Latin name of the plant Sambucus Nigra) which in recent studies in Norway and Israel have shown that two types of flu were cured in 2 days using Sambucol, whereas Tamiflu took 4-5 days!


Elderberry Cordial

Now, we’re a bit late, but ardent hunters can still find elderberries hanging like bunches of tiny grapes. There’s a photo above as well as here for the first timers so you know what you’re looking for.

Elderberries picked and ready

Pick a couple of kilos of elderberries – wash and drain them, then strip them from the stalks. This is quite nice when done with someone else over a glass of wine, although not too much as it then gets quite hard to get the berries in the bucket (ahem!)….

Top Tip: Use a fork to remove the berries from the stalks

Washing elderberries

Transfer the berries to a large pan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until they are soft (about half an hour).

Strain through a sieve (the seeds are okay to eat, but they taste bitter so best to remove).

For every 600ml of liquid, add;

450g of sugar,
the juice of 1 lemon
10 cloves

Return to the heat, add a 1cm piece of fresh ginger (no need to peel) and simmer gently until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil hard for 10 minutes.

Let the liquid cool then fish out the ginger and cloves (clearly if you do it when it’s hot, it will burn and I haven’t yet published my recipe for burns…)

Drink, keep in the fridge for up to one week or freeze in ice cube trays. Then just dilute a couple of cubes in hot water to drink (if you have man-flu, my husband swears by the addition of a nip of whisky). Most of all enjoy and hopefully stay flu-free.


Rosehip Syrup

My apologies, but for this recipe you will need a jelly bag or if you can’t get one of those a pair of new tights (please don’t use old ones…) as well as some sterilised bottles to store the syrup if you’re not freezing. This recipe makes about 2.5 litres.

2 litres of water (plus 1 litre)
1kg of rosehips
450g sugar (normal white granulated)

Here’s the boring bit (as before over a glass of wine with a friend helps).


Remove the stalks from the rosehips and roughly chop them.

Bring 2 litres of water to the boil and add the rosehips.

Bring back to the boil, take off the heat and leave to steep (sit) for 15 mins.

Drain the juice through the jelly bag (or pair of tights) into a large container.

Don’t throw away the pulp – put it back in the pot with the extra litre of water and bring back to the boil, leave for 10 mins and strain as before.

Get a clean pan and pour in 1 litre of cold water and look at it! When you follow the next step, you have to have an idea of what 1 litre of water looks like. Then pour the water out.

Pour the strained juice into the clean pan and boil until it’s reduced to 1 litre (see what I mean!). For those that skipped that step, I bet you wished you hadn’t…

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved and either pour the liquid into sterilised bottles whilst it’s still hot, or allow to cool and store in ice cube trays and freeze.

Elderberry syrup

So there we go – superwoman Tracy’s answer to all your flu woes. She’s going to be back next month with some more amazing recipes and tips, so make sure you come back.