Looks like the bugs of winter…

So I had hoped to post a long post tonight as it has been a great day with my oldest turning five. She is a great kid and I am delighted and saddened at the same time at how fast she has grown and what a real little person she has become. My little girl is growing up to be a wonderful empathetic, happy little person who loves all around her but she is growing up so fast…

My parents came down and dropped of a big box of quinces to process next week and on top my usual bottled quinces for winter I have a few idea’s including bletting some of them in my freezer to try them and a cordial a good friend Libby at libby-cooks has been talking about (if I can con it out off her 🙂 )

But now I feel like the proverbial. We have already had a run of bugs in the house and as winter kicks in it appears one more has decided to come our way from the biohazards that are our crèche children.

bottle

So instead of a long post I am brewing an early batch of elderberry syrup. This is a medicated brew rather than a eating syrup and is proactive measure to keep you healthy and fight virus’s.

Recipe is below. In addition I am drinking a couple of hot lemon and honey drinks as below.

Hopefully I can short circuit this one and do a post on the soups I have been making on my new stove this week.

Hot Lemon Honey and Spice Tea

  • Juice of a lemon (or half a lemon to taste)
  • Table spoon of raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon of dried ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Hot water to a cup

Nothing much mix it all together and drink hot. Very effective.

Elderberry Syrup

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen elderberry or 1/3 of cup of dried
  • 2 tablespoons of ground ginger or fresh
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves (about ½ if you are using ground cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 1 cup of honey

elderberry

Put all ingrediants except the honey in a pot and simmer till it reduces by about a third to a half. Once this has happened pass it through a fine sieve and use the back of spoon to make sure you get as much liquid as possible add a half a cup of boiling water to help push the last of it through and use the back of the spoon again.

When tepid add the cup of honey and stir in (don’t add the honey when to hot) bottle in a sterilised bottle and keep in the fridge I have around a ½ a shot glass a day in winter (starting now) as a proactive and if I am feeling fluey I have it every 4 hours or so.

Should last a month or so in the fridge so make up a batch at a time rather than to much at once.

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Nature Provides

We are well into an odd spring this year. Bush fires rage in the state to our north while we are hammered with hail. The temperature fluctuates from 12 degrees Celsius to 27 then back to 20 with heavy rain then 25 again with full sun. All in 4 days.

It places great strain on the body and you see the zombie sheepeople on the trains all looking as though they are being even more broken by this than even their normal daily grind.

Historically spring has led to colds and influenza the variability of the weather (although not this extreme) has meant that people’s bodies cannot quite get the rhythm to build up their immunity. It is not helped by the modern diet.

In the past spring was a time of lots of greens, few starches, any meat was lean after the winter. Our diet essentially detoxified itself through availability.

Now we just keep pouring in carbs and fat as with the winter or summer or autumn (another post on this one day)

After avoiding flu throughout the winter I have been hit with a cold in this spring, just a mild one and I have cooked up a batch of elderberry syrup as I used in winter.

Luckily on top of my stock of elderberry it is elderflower season and these make a great tea that has the antiviral properties of the berries and makes a very nice tea with a teaspoon of honey that also helps to get up your hydration levels another good way to get the bugs out of your system.

elderflower

To a greater degree we have lost our connection to the fact that for centuries such natural events such as elderflowers blooming or elderberry ripening coincided with times we need them. Our bodies are biological and linked to the natural world and the natural rhythms. The knowledge is also lost people barely know what the tree that I grab the flowers is for or how to use it until pointed out.

I am not perfect, my background is western european so elder is something in my tradition. I am sure there is an equivalent of this in indigenous Australian lore that could be found but there is simply no excuse for not learning about such things as this digitally connected age.

tea cup

Elderflower Tea

  • 1 Large or 2 small elderflowers
  • A teaspoon of honey

Put everything in a cup, cover with boiled water and let it steep for 5 or so minutes.

Drink

(Elderflower also dries very well and you should dry some for teas as the flowering time is short in Australia)

Elderflower Season

We often look at harvesting as autumn pass time. Laying down goods for winter.

To me this is a lot less important in the temperate location I live as there is regular growth in all but the worst of mid winter and even then greens are available, but there are times during the whole year when a particular food comes around.

Some like asparagus are enjoyed as part of the cycle some like mushrooms are both enjoyed and stored for the rest of the year.

Elderflowers are one of these. They are only around for a short period of time but to me they are well worth putting down a store of for as long as they last.

elderflower

I have a number of sources but there is one in our court that I get to and hit pretty hard in the flower season knowing that this will impact on the berries I get. I do this as my experience is that this one tree is flogged by the birds and few elderberries are left for me to pick. My source of elderberries is up country and well worth the trip to collect them when I need to get them.

Elder has some great properties. The flowers and berries when properly prepared have antiviral properties and this year I had elderberry syrup each day over winter and avoided the usual bout of illness.

So the first batch of the season went straight into the dryer. Elderflower fresh or dried with a little honey makes a great tea and if you are feeling a bit like something is coming on it is seems to help to avoid it turning into something serious.  This will keep me going till the berries are out and I can make up a new batch of elderberry syrup.

bowl of elderflowers

The second batch I will pick tomorrow morning and make 4 -5 litres of elderflower cordial. Then onto the good stuff the champagne J

All through the season this year I will really be focusing in on these little harvests getting the larder ready and keeping things stocked. Each year I try to get a bit further off the stupid go round and this is great example of that.

Elder flowers are also easy to find in most places so start to have a look around and learn to identify them from a good resource. Start to work out where your own larder and medicine cabinet are to be found before you actually need them.

Good luck foraging.