Scandinavian Elderberry

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Scandinavian Elderberry

Scandinavian elderberries are not the tastiest in the world, but they are so plentiful that they have to be considered, and they do make a nice, cold-fighting cordial.

The epitome of good, old-school Scandinavian housekeeping is having elderberry cordial for colds and flu in your well-stocked pantry.

If you have picked elderflowers in May, you’ll know where to look for these tiny berries in early autumn. The common elder (Sambucus nigra) produces great hanging bunches of juicy, purple-black berries. They are virtually tasteless when raw, but come into their own when cooked.

Scandinavian Elderberry
If you have picked elderflowers in May, you’ll know where to look for these tiny berries in early autumn.

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Read also: Scandinavians and Strawberries
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Culinary uses

Elderberries are generally used to give other, less colorful jams and cordials a nice full color. This means that if you do not take precautions, your kitchen will be a nice uneven mauve after you’ve dealt with the berries. Cover everything with plastic and newspapers, or do the preparations outside.

Scandinavian Elderberry
Sambucus berries. Photo: Wikipedia

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Read also: Scandinavian berries
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Elderberry cordial

The cordial is not too sweet and used as a toddy (with hot water, a little honey and a slice of lemon) against all ills during cold and nasty Nordic winters. Some people even add rum or schnapps, if the victim is a grown-up. I like to call the recipe ‘elderberry catastrophe in your kitchen”!

Fill a 10-liter non-corrosive pan with the elderberries – the long stalks should be stripped off, but the little ones can stay. Cover with water, then heat gently and leave to simmer for half an hour. You can mash the berries to release mor juice, and you will end up with a lovely, everlastingly purple wooden spoon.

Scandinavian Elderberry
Elderberry cordial

For the next, dripping stage you will need an old, clean dishcloth and a large bowl. You can either put the fruit in a very large colander lined with the cloth, tie the corners of the fruit-filled cloth to the legs of an upturned chair, or tie the gathered ends of the cloth to a drawer handle. Leave the fruit to drip into the bowl until the next day.

When it is ready, you may choose to freeze the cordial straight away and sweeten it when you are going to use it. Alternatively, sweeten the cordial to taste, then pour it into jars and sterilize them in the oven. To do this: screw on the lid (but not completely tight as there must be room for steam to escape), then bake in the oven at 110 degrees/gas mark ¼ until you can see the cordial bubbling in the jars. Turn off the oven, screw the lid on tightly and let the jars cool in the oven. Prepared in this way, the cordial will keep for ages. If you use proper sterilizing jars (with rubber rings), you can tighten the lids straight away, before putting them in the oven.

Scandinavian Elderberry, written by Tor Kjolberg

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.

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