So, if I had to pick, I’m going to declare that September is my favourite month of the year! Given I adore a heritage that reminds us to uphold the embodiment of golden mean*, and therefore having favourites is not encouraged, why am I declaring that?

Because I love foraging! It’s so much fun, really satisfying and best of all it’s free!! Not to forget of course it is THE best way to bring natural food into your kitchen and take active steps to look after yourself in the winter months ahead. Mother Nature knows her stuff and she gives us these gifts for good reason. My children all get involved too, as do our dogs and pigs, as well as Mr Brindle himself. In fact, we all get quite industrious and literally strip every last fruit, nut and berry off the trees and bushes.

First up is my now famous Elderberry Linctus. Prized as one of the main anti-viral plants that is freely available to us, this linctus is so worth making – it also has a host of other health-giving benefits including being a natural antioxidant, it is high in vitamin C, it can ease inflammation, promote good gut and bowel health and, of course, help to reduce the symptoms and lessen the duration of colds and flu. It really makes a difference if we nurture our health in this simple way, and there is something so wonderful about nourishing yourself with a home-made linctus, both as prevention and aide if your immune system is compromised. I just give a Chinese soup spoon each day to my entire family between roughly November and March.
It’s as simple as that!

Elderberries, 250g
Water, 600ml
Honey, runny 250g
Cinnamon Stick, 1
Cloves, whole 3
Ginger, fresh root, finger-sized, peeled and shredded
Black Peppercorns, Whole 1 tsp
Nutmeg, freshly grated 1 tbsp
Lemon, to taste

How to make your Elderberry Linctus:

● Put all of your berries into a large pan with an equal amount of water. Add the spices and bring to the boil before reducing and simmering for around 30 minutes.
● Squash the berries with a potato masher to release the juice during the time they are simmering.
● Strain the mixture through a jelly bag or sieve and then once cooled add the honey and lemon juice to taste, stirring to combine.
● Bottle and seal, or bag and freeze. Use within one year.

I’m afraid my foraging doesn’t stop with this winter necessity…. Next up are rosehips, hawthorns and acorns! You can easily make acorns into flour – they were much prized as a highly nutritious ingredient by the native Americans. Rosehips and hawthorns become tinctures, also supporting immunity, but also helping with cardiovascular issues, and supporting kidney and liver health to name but a very few of their benefits. Keep an eye on my socials, as I’ll be documenting all of this activity to inspire you!

And on that note, as we gratefully gather and appreciate our Autumn bounty, I’ll leave you to ponder these two ancient Chinese proverbs:

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything gets done”

“The harvest of a whole year depends on what you sow in the springtime”.

(* The concept of Golden Mean is that there is always harmony and balance. As we embrace the energy and powerful gifts afforded to us by the ever-changing seasons, both physically and metaphysically, our yin and yang is balanced, we nurture our minds, bodies and spirits, and we are truly content and at peace.)