There are two ways to make elderberry syrup – true 'elderberry rob' contains no sugar at all and is preserved using the sugars already in the berries; it has the advantage of being sugar free but not so tasty. The other method is more of a syrup; using sugar or honey to preserve. All recipes start in the same way...
Strip berries from their steams, wash in cool water, place in a saucepan with a dash of water with a selection of spices (e.g. cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, black pepper, ginger). Cover and very gently simmer for 30-60 minutes (this is called making a decoction).
The next steps depend on your chosen method:
Squash the berries with a potato masher and strain the liquid out into a measuring jug with a fine sieve. Measure out your strained liquid, for every 500ml of juice add 250g of sugar. Add a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves, a five spice and a few slices of lemon. Simmer for half an hour uncovered, stirring regularly. Poor into sterilised bottles. To use take a teaspoon as is or poor into a hot drink…yum!
You can also make a honey based syrup by taking your measured decoction, and mixing it with equal parts honey and stirring well. This mixture can then be placed in sterile jars and stored in the fridge. Once opened, use within 2 months.
For a sugar-free rob
Once you have strained your decoction as before, return it to the pan and Keep simmering, uncovered, your potion gently in the pan on a very low heat. Once it has reduced by about half, your rob is finished. Pour the liquid into sterilised wide mouthed jars (it can go quite solid like jam when cool and is tricky to get out of bottles) or freeze into ice-cube trays.
To use your rob or syrup, stir a teaspoonful into a hot drink.