This recipe is taken from James Wong's excellent book "Grow Your Own Drugs" (a year with James Wong). All the berries contain high levels of vitamin C (rosehips alone have about 20 times more vitamin C than oranges!), and elderberry is an excellent antiviral. Taken regularly as a tonic this can be used to support your immune system through the winter months.
*Identification & Countryside rules - It is important that you identify the correct plant as there are some poisonous look-a-likes. There are lots of identification books on the market and my particular favourite is "The Wildflower Key" by Francis Rose. There are also some ID Facebook Groups that can help with IDing plants from photos. With regard to what you can collect from nature, it isn't usually an offence to pick fruit, foliage, fungi or flowers (the four F's) for home use (there are different rules if picking for commercial purposes). You can check full info via Naturenet about the countryside law.
In addition to the berries, you also need a good cider vinegar such as the one shown in the picture, plus a sterilised glass container.
Use a fork to comb through the elderberries and remove them from their stalks. Give them a quick rinse and place them straight into the glass jar. Remove the stalks from the hawthorn berries and rose hips as best you can and rinse them too. Most foragers advise collecting rose hips and hawthorn berries after the first frost, so a little cheat is to pop them in the freezer overnight.
Meanwhile, pop the elderberries into your container and pour enough apple cider vinegar over to cover them, we will add the other berries tomorrow. It doesn't take long for the vinegar to start turning a lovely shade of purple!
The next morning, take the hawthorn berries and rose hips out of the freezer and let them defrost. Give them a quick rinse and then add them to the jar with the elderberries. I make a cut in the rose hips to enable the vinegar to get into the berry. Inside each rose hip there are numerous seeds covered in tiny hairs which can be irritating to the digestive tract so the final mixture will need to be strained well before use just in case any of the seeds escape into the mixture.
Once the berries have been added to the jar, pour on more apple cider vinegar and completely cover the berries. Seal the lid and label up your jar with the contents and the date. This will now be left to macerate (soak) for 14 days, giving a little shake of the jar each day. After 14 days, strain the mixture, bottle up and label.
Stored in the fridge it should last up to a year.
Take 1 to 2 tablespoons diluted in hot water each day.
I promise you it tastes nicer than you think! Forget the "vinegar" part and think of it as a fruity cordial.