In the UK consumers spend a vast sum of money annually on vitamin and mineral supplements, especially at this time of year. However, if you know where to look, you can find what you need all around you.
At this time of year, there is a treasure trove of hedgerow fruit bursting with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
During World War Two the government encouraged children to pick rosehips on their walk to school, where the hips were collected and sent to be made into Vitamin C packed Rosehip Syrup ( apart from those kept by mischievous scamps to be used as itching powder!!) Rosehips also contain vitamins A, K and the B vitamins. It is very easy to make rosehip syrup yourself, and it has a reputation for keeping winter coughs and colds at bay. The syrup can be taken daily, or used on pancakes, waffles, rice pudding, in yoghurt, even diluted to make a cordial.
The recipe below is taken from James Wong’s book – Grow Your Own Drugs.
Blackberries too contain lots of vitamin C, and can be used to make jams, jellies, syrups and in apple and blackberry crumble of course!!
Elderberries are often overlooked for eating, but made into a jelly or syrup elderberries have powerful anti-viral properties, especially useful during the flu season to increase resistance to infection, and their anti-inflammatory properties meant they were traditionally used to soothe coughs, sore throats and colds, and loosen mucus in catarrhal conditions. Elderberry and apple syrup is my absolute favourite cough and cold remedy. Made into a hot drink with lemon and honey, there is nothing better to soothe a sore throat!
The berries of the Hawthorn are known to contain compounds that are very good for the heart. The ripe berries can be made into a syrup and taken as a heart and circulation tonic, to help keep your heart healthy. Hawthorn may also have a beneficial effect on sleeplessness, anxiety and mood swings.
Sloes are rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Although they are too bitter to eat raw, they can be cooked with apples to make a fantastic jelly, to accompany meat and cheese, or they can be made into the traditional sloe gin. It takes some time and patience to make, but it is supposed to be worth the wait!
So, why not look up some old recipes, and go foraging in nature’s larder for some wonderful, natural, tasty alternatives to the bottles of pills so many of us have come to rely on?
5 cloves and a cinnamon stick (both optional)
500mls boiling water
Approx. 125g sugar
Place the roughly chopped rosehips in the boiling water with the spices if using. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a muslin or other tight weave cotton cloth.
Return the liquid to the pan and add the same amount of sugar as there is liquid (eg 125mls liquid + 125g sugar). Bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved, then pour into sterilized bottles. Take 2 teaspoons daily, or dilute to make 1 part syrup to 5 parts water and drink. Keeps for up to a year unopened, but refrigerate after opening!