Treasures of the Laois Countryside

Treasures of the Laois Countryside

Edition 1 courtesy of Mary Bulfin

Elderberries are ripening in hedgerows right now which is great news as these little berries are tasty, easy to identify and full of goodness. They are at least as valuable when it comes to boosting your immune system as Echinacea and available for free all around us.

So grab your bucket and get yourself some local free superfood.

Elderberries are rich in Vitamin C. They also contain high levels of flavonoids which inhibIt the ability of flu virus to enter cells.

Elderberries are packed with all the essential amino acids, Vit A, B C and H, calcium, magnesium and Iron.Thus Elderberry is a strong immune strengtening herb. They act as a tonic and are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and an expectorant as well.

Mary Bulfin's Wild Food Workshops open your eyes to the treasure trove that is the Laois Countryside.

Mary Bulfin’s Wild Food Workshops open your eyes to the treasure trove that is the Laois Countryside.

Elderberries can be used in relishes chutneys, jellies and syrups. They also contain high levels of tannins which makes these little beauties perfect for making  homemade wine. I use Elderberry wine to  blend with other fruit wines.

Here is a simple recipe for syrup which stores well, take a spoonful every day as winter tonic or every few hours at first  signs of infection.


Spiced Elderberry syrup.

Syrups are very versatile as they can make a great warming drink, can be drizzled over ice-cream or pancakes or added to smoothies or even sauces.Take a Spoonful over porridge or in yogurt in morning. This is my favourite winter syrup. Great added to a hot port, guaranteed to cheer you up when the chills threathen.

I usually add cloves and cinnamon bark to the mix to give it extra warmth, you could try organic  lemon juice and zest or organic orange jest


Saucepan, stainless steel if you have.

Jelly bag or old pillow slip for straining

Measuring jug

Weighing scales,

Bottles to store your syrup.screw top or clip top.

Our local natural bounty

Our local natural bounty


Elderberries stripped from stems, enough to half fills your sausepan.



Cinnamon stick.

Sugar.white, unrefined or Demerara.(you can use xylitol for a sugar-free version)


Put berries in pan and cover with water, bring to boil and boil for 15 mins. Strain through jelly bag or pillow slip, squeezing to extract as much juice as possible.

Sterilize bottles in oven ( not essential if for home use) 20 mins at 160.

Rinse saucepan and measure juice. For every liter of juice add 700grms sugar or xylitol to taste. Add cloves and cinnamon, about 8 cloves and 3cm cinnamon per litre. Heat and stir to dissolve sugar, bring to boil, turn off heat and allow to cool a little before bottling.

Bottle and allow to cool completely before storing in cool dark place or fridge, keeps very well, at least a year.

Mary Bulfin runs wild food workshops, see for details.