I’ve just finished making this year’s Elderberry, Thyme & Liquorice Linctus – amazing stuff for coughs, colds, sore throats, and as a general winter tonic… Elderberries are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants, and I add tincture of thyme for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and tincture of liquorice as it’s a great expectorant for bringing up phlegm, and also a soothing demulcent for sore throats and chests. It tastes delicious – and it works!
This year there were some exceptionally fat and juicy berries for me to pick (alongside masses of similarly lush berries and fruits, including blackberries, hawthorn berries, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut, which I’ve also been collecting). But elderberries are particularly time-consuming to prepare, and I didn’t have time to make as much linctus as I usually do.
First of all, I make sure all my utensils and bottles are sterilised, as this stuff quickly goes off if you get any bacteria in it. Then I pick the elderberries, getting stung by nettles and scratched by brambles along the way, but then I’m used to that in my line of work! Next comes the painstaking separation of the ripe ‘n’ ready berries from the still green ones, and the shrivelled up ones, on each panicle. Then I make the syrup – ensuring I don’t over heat it and lose some of its medicinal properties. Once cool, the tinctures of thyme and liquorice are added, and the resultant elixir bottled and labelled.
This year, I factored in the manpower, i.e. the number of hours it took me to do all this, paying myself £18 an hour, whereas previously it’s been more a labour of love. Although a lot of love has still gone into it, because I love what I do, and herbal medicines prepared with love always have the edge when it comes to healing properties.
So I’m charging more for my linctus this year: £8.50 for a 200ml bottle.
You can, of course, make your own Elderberry Linctus, using culinary herbs such as ginger root, cinnamon and/or liquorice sticks in place of the thyme and liquorice tinctures I use. You’ll find a recipe for it in a website blog I wrote way back in 2015. Click here.