No votes for or against the name of my blog. So I think we'll simply abridge it to Carton Square. Less specific. And better than Earl's Court (our new location). A bit pompous, Earl's Court. But this blog isn't about our new house. It's about the flu we had this weekend.
It was a draggy sort of flu. An achy all over, throbbing head ache and fall into bed with exhaustion sort of flu. Luckily help was close at hand. Sure, sure, Vitamin D and zinc are the cure alls. But that was so yesterday's news. And echinacea has very little evidence proving its worth besides that of an urban legend likely placed in our minds by over-marketing.
I'm talking about the best cure out there for viruses. Recently proven to have a strong anti-viral effect with the H1N1 virus. Generally found to reduce the length of a viral flu by more than half. So, what is it? Well there's more to the bio of this particular cure... It is also deadly poisonous if not properly prepared. So before I continue, let me share my disclaimer... if you decide to partake in harvesting, preparing and eating this plant MAKE SURE you bloody well follow my instructions because I am not responsible if you poison yourself.
So what is this mysterious cure?
Elderberries. The flowers are edible, and the RIPE berries are edible. The twigs, leave, stems and unripe berries are POISONOUS.
Okay, enough with the exclamations. I could have included a photo of the tree, as Maynooth is covered in elderberry trees. But I'm not about to tell anyone to go out picking random black berries from not properly identified trees. However, if you are a Maynooth local you can find the trees lining the canal, by the train station, along Harbour road, down Straffan road (you get the picture).
After harvesting, the berries need to be washed and taken off the stem. I read something on the web about freezing the berries and having them simply fall off the stalks. This did not work for me. Instead I just sort of rubbed the plant and the berries quite easily fell off.
I then processed my berries into three different virus blasting uses.
Frozen berries can be added to pies, crumble, yogurt, applesauce you name it. They aren't sweet, but they aren't that tart either.
I made two bottle of elderberry cordial. This is a concentrated syrup that is meant to be diluted before drinking. I would dilute it 1 part cordial to 8 parts water. You can cut down on the sugar, but that may reduce the shelf life as sugar is a preservative.
Cover your elderberries with water then simmer for 30 minutes. Then strain out the berries and mash them to make sure you get all the elderberry "juice." For every pint (2 cups) of elderberry liquid add 8 oz sugar (or honey), 12 whole cloves, 1 inch of grated fresh ginger and 1 Cinnamon stick. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Pour into sterilized bottles (I just pre-rinsed my bottles with boiling water) and use within the next 6 months.
3. COLD BLASTING JELLY
I got this recipe from the BBC program "Grow Your Own Drugs". As an aside, I absolutely loved the program. The guy is a biologist who decides to cook up scientifically proven remedies. My only complaint would be that many of the remedies take a bit of work to prepare.
However, I would have to say that the elderberries worked! Brad, Nikolai and I were all cured after dosing heavily on the our elderberry stash. And my favorite foraging friend (there's an alliteration for you) also cured her family from similar ailments this weekend using our elderberry cordial. We were so happy with the successes that we went out and picked another lot of berries today!