Medicinal & Healing Hedgerow Jelly

Medicinal & Healing Hedgerow Jelly

   hedgerowjam            hedgerow herbs01

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.

*I used fresh hedgerow ingredients but you could just as easily use dried ones. We sell organic hawthorn berries, elderberries, and rosehips in our shop at the main Wild Pharma website.

If you do try out the recipe, we would love to know what you think of it!

Delicious & Medicinal Elderberry Jelly Recipe

Delicious & Medicinal Elderberry Jelly Recipe

Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) have so much to offer as both food and medicine. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins (packed with vitamin C) and the chemicals giving them their dark purple/red colour are responsible for many  positive actions on immunity and vitality, the heart, blood vessels and circulation and in the reduction of harmful blood lipids (fats).

This experimental jelly recipe not only tastes delicious (fruity beyond belief with a hint of cherry sweets) but can make a really useful medicine for colds, ‘flu, chest infections and coughs, catarrh and mucous congestion and will help warm up the body in the colder months.

Ingredients I used: fresh elderberries (you could use dried elderberries – just use about half the amount) apples, lemons, sugar, star anise, pure apple pectin powder and a little water.

This is how the jelly was created….


elderberry  elderberrypick elderberrystalks elderberryde-stalked

First, I came across a great Elder tree packed with juicy ripe berries.

I picked only the heads that were completely ripe as the unripe ones are not good (you can always pick them out later though). Treat them really gently whilst carrying them home, then lay out carefully on a tray or similar ready for de-stalking.

You could most definitely use dried elderberries instead, just use less of them and add a bit more water while simmering. You can also re-hydrate them by soaking them in water until they plump back to life again if you like.

Using a fork, I gently removed the berries from the stalks (don’t worry if a few stalky bits get in, you will strain them out later).

After giving them a good wash they weighed in at just under 800g. I put them in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan with a little water (not enough to cover them) and also added a whole organic lemon (sliced), 3 large wild scrumped apples from an old abandoned orchard and about 5 or 6 whole organic star anise.

After bringing it to the boil, I turned down the heat and gently simmered away for around half an hour or so, squashing the ingredients against the side of the pan and stirring every now and then.

Next I strained the mixture through a sieve and left it dripping for a while, giving a gentle squash with the back of a spoon to help it on its way. I read somewhere that if you squeeze too hard, the jelly will be cloudy.

Then the incredible smelling and looking liquid went back in a clean pan and I added about 150g of organic brown sugar and a level teaspoon of  pure apple pectin powder (I hate shop bought pectins as they always have additives and preservatives) and simmered again for around 40 minutes.

When it seemed ready, it was poured into sterilised jam jars. It only made 2 jars but believe me, it was well worth it! I always have dried elderberries in store and often make up herbal teas with it but this is so much more delicious used as a spread on toast, to put on desserts or to eat straight off the spoon.

*Don’t forget that many jam/jelly/syrup recipes using low pectin fruits are often experimental so don’t be too worried about amounts etc. Whatever happens you should still end up with something delicious, edible and medicinal. Just keep a close eye on it if you’re not sure what its shelf life is and store it in the fridge or a cool dark place. I don’t think these 2 jars are going to hang around for long in my kitchen anyway!