After a wet, cold summer, autumn has greeted us with sunshine and clear skies...the leaves are starting to change, and the days have become noticeably shorter. I've been out harvesting beautiful baskets of ripe elderberries, hawthorn, blackberries, and rose hips.
One of my favorite ways to use them is in syrups. A general recipe I use to make a syrup is to combine 1 cup of fresh berries (or a half cup of dried) with 3 cups of water and any spices you might be adding. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the liquid reduces by half. If you are using hawthorn berries you will see them change from red to a yellowish color. I like to smash the berries around on the bottom of the pan to get all the goodness out. Then strain everything through a sieve or in a piece of cheese cloth to separate the liquid from the remains of the berries. Measure the liquid (should be about half of what you started with) and add an equal amount or slightly less of honey (I like to use raw) to the warm liquid. Keep in the refrigerator where it will last for a couple months. Using less honey then a 1:1 ratio decreases the amount of time the syrup keeps as the honey helps preserve it.
Here are three of my favorite combinations so far...
1 cup fresh Elderberries with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and rose hips.
Hawthorn and Ginger
1 cup fresh Hawthorn berries with ginger and rose hips. This one tends to set up thicker then the elderberry so make sure you put it into a jar that you can get a spoon into.
1 cup elderberries, 1 cup hawthorn berries, 1 cup blackberries, handful of rose hips.
Have you tried making syrups before? What are your favorites?