After getting into making jams, jellies and chutneys over the last few years, I have started to experiment a little by adding some medicinal ingredients to the recipes. This way eating your jam or jelly on toast, in a sandwich, over ice cream and desserts or just off the spoon can benefit your health too.
This recipe uses common fruits and berries from a British hedgerow, all of which are good nutrition and medicine in themselves, and with the addition of a few extras can be turned into really useful anti-viral medicines. This one tastes a bit like the old-fashioned ‘cherry drop’ sweets with a deep and fruity base. It will contain flavanoids for heart and blood vessel health, vitamins, minerals and a host of other nutrients including anti-viral compounds (in the elderberry, star anise and liquorice) and other immune enhancing substances and also be soothing to the chest and throat.
Ingredients I used are *freshly picked hawthorn berries, elderberries, rosehips, blackberries and crap apples (as seen above from left to right). I also added some star anise (around 4-5 whole stars), liquorice root (about a quarter of a teaspoon of chopped dried root) and an inch or two of a cinnamon stick. Begin by washing all the fruit thoroughly and discarding any that are damaged, mouldy etc. Weigh your fruit and use between half or the same weight of good quality sugar (I always use as little as I can get away with!). I also added a bit of water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and sticking.
After bringing to the boil and simmering, I mashed the rosehips with the back of a wooden spoon as they are quite hard and take a long while to break open When it had all broken down quite nicely, I strained the whole lot and put it back on the heat to simmer and reduce. The hawthorn berries and crab apples have quite a lot of pectin so I didn’t need to add any extra apple pectin. You could leave the fruit whole and in the jam but you will have to open the rosehips and scrape out all the little hairs before adding to the mix as these can be very irritating to the throat. You would also have to squeeze out the hawthorn pips which are quite sizeable, very hard and inedible.
After a while you will have a tasty, dark coloured brew ready for bottling up when you are confident it has reached setting point (when it wrinkles up slight after dropping onto a cold plate). Label the sterilised jars and store for use all through the winter.
Don’t forget to take an extra spoonful when you feel the first signs of a cold, flu, sore throat or swollen glands! Put a heaped tablespoon in a mug and add hot water and a squeeze of fresh lemon, some grated ginger, a pinch of chilli, anything you like to make this even more medicinal and powerful.
If you do try out the recipe, we would love to know what you think of it!