To make elderberry syrup, use a fork to remove the berries from the stalks. When you have a kilogram of berries, give them a quick rinse, put them in a large pan, add water until the berries are just covered, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the berries are very soft. Then strain off the juice and return it to the pan, discarding the pulp. Add 500g of sugar and boil rapidly for about 15 minutes, until the liquid has thickened.
Pour into sterilised glass bottles and store in a cool dark place for up to four months. Mix elderberry syrup with sparkling water – or prosecco if you're feeling extravagant – for a refreshing drink. It can also be used like maple syrup, poured over pancakes or ice cream.
Elderberry syrup has been used medicinally for centuries, and when you look at the health benefits of the berries, it's easy to see why. They are high in vitamin C, as well as being a good source of potassium and vitamins A and B. They are also said to be high in antioxidants, to strengthen the immune system and to lower cholesterol.
Elderberry syrup is particularly good for soothing colds and flu – and mixed with hot water and honey, the syrup can provide relief for coughs and sore throats.
Rosehips are another foraged fruit with reputed health benefits. The fruit of the wild dog-rose, these are best picked in October – preferably after being softened by the first frosts. Made into syrups and sauces, rosehips are a good source of vitamin C – so good, in fact, that during the Second World War volunteers were sent out to pick them, to be made into bottles of vitamin-rich syrup at a time when many fresh fruits were in short supply. They can also be used to make wine.