Maggie Pope
is a Medical Herbalist

Practising in
Bridgwater, Somerset

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Elderflowers and Elderberries…

Elderberries in bloom

Elderflower close up



By the side of the Taunton-Bridgwater Canal path you can find an abundance of medicinal herbs. Near West Street you can get down to the Canal path, and up until recently there was a beautiful Elder bush which always was loaded with fragrant flowers in the spring time, then later carried bushels of dark purple berries. This year two herbalist colleagues came down from London to help me harvest a few baskets of the flowers which I dried for tea, and made into tinctures.


When I returned in the Autumn to harvest some berries to make into Winter Tonic with cinnamon and cloves, someone had cut the bush down, right to the ground. Although I was disappointed, I knew there were more bushes towards the junction with Taunton Road, but walking along the Canal path all the bushes had a very very poor crop of berries. So far I have only managed to gather enough to make four 200mls of the Winter Tonic, but my its so good I have to restrain the children from drinking it.  If you would like the recipe, please email me.


Scroll down to see how we did it….








Elderberries plucked from their stalks

I strip all the berries from their stalks with a fork or a snazzy little berry picker I bought in Finland where, like Norway, they gather a lot of berries and make jams and stuff.

Then I weigh the berries and bring them up to a boil before simmering them with some sugar.


Weighed and ready to boil

Simmering the berries


The simmering will reduce the liquid by about a third, so it is rich and gloopy. Then we have to strain out the berries before we heat again with some cinnamon and cloves thrown in.





Straining the berries


After the straining, we put the berries in some muslin and squash through a press to extract all the juice.

Pressing the berries






Then we add the cinnamon and cloves and simmer a while longer before pouring into bottles and labelling.


Eh voila!















Straining out the berries


After we strain the berries, we simmer the reduced liquid with cinnamon sticks and a handful of cloves.












Hot sterilized bottles waiting to be filled



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May 2018
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