Each September I reach for my old family recipe books and search out the recipe for Elderberry Rob.
There are many versions but the basic ingredients remain the same. Elderberries, sugar/honey, cloves/ginger.
Before you begin I recommend that you cover your work surfaces with plenty of old newspaper and make sure you are wearing very old clothing. Rubber gloves are a good idea, too. The berries will stain everything they come into contact with, so wipe up accidental spills straight away.
You will need plenty of ripe elderberries, strip them from the stalks, then rinse and drain. Put them into a large saucepan with a tiny splash of water to stop the base of the pan scorching them as they heat. Cover the pan and gently bring them to the boil, reduce to a simmer until they pop their skins.
Remove them from the heat and allow to cool, then either squeeze through a jelly bag, or rub through a sieve. Discard the skins.
Measure the resulting juice and add about half a pound of sugar to each pint of juice, along with about 18 cloves. Gently heat, stirring in the sugar,
until dissolved. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool, this is when all that wonderful clove flavour will leach into the brew.
Finally, once properly cooled, strain the cloves out and then bottle the rob in clean, sterilised bottles. It will keep through the winter and possibly for another winter or two longer!
The dose is one/two tablespoons in hot water.
It is said to help in the fight against influenza - I'm not quite sure of the science behind it, although I know it is clearly explained by Marmaduke Scarlet, ***here*** - and, if nothing else, it makes a wonderful winter cordial.