The season for the fruit to be picked for jams, cordials, syrups and chutneys is Summer to Autumn. The finished product can be kept indefinitely.
Jam is made from raspberries growing organically on the land. The raspberries are handpicked, cooked and usually in the jars within the same day. I used to make the jam with sugar but now honey is used as a sweetener and lemons to thicken it. It is cooked for less than jam would normally be cooked to preserve as much of the natural goodness as possible. Everything possible is done to make this a high quality product, even down to hand written labels and individual, hand finished covers for the jars. Each jar is a work of art and made with love. It is there to create well being and not as a mass produced moneymaker. They are limited edition products.
Syrup Elderberry syrup is made to my grandmas recipe and in her honour. There was always elderberry syrup in the pantry when I was growing up, made by my mom or my grandma. They made it with sugar and I now make it with honey. When my mom died, I found a bottle in her pantry which had been there for years. I drank it, as to me it is like gold dust and tastes like nectar. I never got colds when I was a kid, and I rarely get them now. Elderberries are packed with vitamin C, keeping the immune system strong. The syrup is concentrated and can be drank as a medicine with hot water which is very soothing, or as a cold cordial. I once took some bottles to a health food store and told the owner how I made them. He said, “So they’re the real McCoy!” and they are. The recipe: The elderberries are harvested from the trees, (there are 12-14 on the land) and sorted, taking off all the stalks. They are then gently simmered for half an hour until soft. They are then put into a piece of muslin and hung above the pan for the juice to drip out. When finished, the muslin bag is squeezed and squeezed until the last drop of juice has been extracted. The juice is then warmed up and honey added to taste. It is then transferred to sterilized bottles. My aim is always to get the syrup into the bottle within the day because as soon as they come off the tree, their goodness starts to wane. I never use frozen berries, at the very least, they will be in the bottles the next day. The fresher they are, the better for the body, soul and planet. The remaining elderberries can be flattened onto a baking tray and cooked on a low heat for 20 minutes until they become crisp and eaten for a snack, or used as they are as an ingredient in cakes. Nothing goes to waste. The goodness is in every part of the berry.