I have been recovering from a summer cold – and realised that it’s elderberry season! So I went foraging in my back garden and in the local forest near my house. I came back with a gorgeous bounty that I made into one of my favourite DIY health foods: elderberry coulis. Quick, simple, beautiful and effective!
Here’s the recipe:
- Elderberries (any quantity)
- Maple syrup (optional)
- Separate the berries from the stems using a fork and place them in a pan with just 1/4 of an inch of water.
- Slow-cook the berries for about 20 minutes. (Note: Raw elderberries contain toxic compounds related to cyanide called “cyanogenic glycosides” that are destroyed by heat, making them perfectly safe and healthy to eat. However, it’s important to ensure that all parts of the elder plant, especially the leaves, stems, and unripe berries, are removed before cooking, as these can have higher concentrations of toxic compounds.)
- Blend the cooked berries into a smooth puree. If you’re adding some maple syrup, you can do that now. I personally like just a tiny bit, so about 1 tablespoon per 200ml of coulis.
- Sieve the puree to remove the pips (they are gritty!).
- Decant the coulis into a jam jar or any other recipient of your liking.
Elderberry coulis has a beautiful, sharp and fresh taste that goes wonderfully with a number of foods. I love pouring a generous dollop of coulis on my Original Kefir and into a breakfast bowl. The flavour also works beautifully on sourdough toast with some olive oil or salted butter.
Side notes…Beyond food
- The bare stems of the elder plant even look like dendrites, a mesh of nerves innervating the gut or bronchiole in the lungs. Coincidentally, all of these anatomical parts benefit from the natural chemicals in elderberries. Incredible, isn’t it?
- Beyond the physiological effects, foraging for elderberries is a journey of its own. It’s a full-body workout, and as you immerse yourself in nature, you’ll find it rejuvenates the spirit. The act of searching, picking, and being one with the wild brings peace and connection to our roots. And I’m not the only scientist who thinks this way. The evidence that being in nature improves cognitive function, brain activity, blood pressure, mental health, and even sleep keeps growing.1Jimenez MP, DeVille NV, Elliott EG, Schiff JE, Wilt GE, Hart JE, James P. Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 30;18(9):4790. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18094790. So happy foraging and happy coulis making!
- In the UK you are legally allowed to pick anything growing wild for personal consumption, including the 4 f’s (fruit, flowers, fungi, and foliage) from any land. However, taking cultivated crops without permission is considered theft and is illegal. Always ask the landowner for permission before foraging on private private property, pick considerately (don’t wipe out the entire patch) and never pick anything that is considered endangered. Be sure that you know what you’re picking – never put yourself or anyone else at risk by consuming unidentified plant material!
Looking for some more recipe inspiration? Check out our recipe archive here.
Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.