Elder­ber­ries add unique flavour to ciders, soups

The Peterborough Examiner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Shari Dar­ling’s books and other pub­li­ca­tions are avail­able at un­der­stand­pub­lish­ing.com

I tasted elder­ber­ries for the first time in John Rufa’s Elder­berry Cider from Kawartha Coun­try Wines, $4 per bot­tle, in a six-bot­tle case. This is lo­cally made ap­ple cider in­fused with elder­berry juice. What a lovely flavour! I love cider be­cause it’s re­fresh­ing, tasty, light, and un­like beer, gluten-free!

Our In­dige­nous peo­ple used ev­ery part of the elder­berry shrub for liv­ing, in­clud­ing the mak­ing of tools made from the branches, such as ar­row shafts and pipes. Its black berries were also used for eat­ing and medic­i­nal prop­er­ties.

Elder­ber­ries are an ex­cel­lent source of fi­bre, vi­ta­min A, vi­ta­min C, iron, potas­sium, vi­ta­min B6, and beta-carotene. The juice has an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory, an­tivi­ral, an­ti­sep­tic, an­ti­cancer, and detox­i­fy­ing prop­er­ties. The skin’s flavonoids are an­tiox­i­dant rich, thus help­ing to pre­vent cell dam­age.

The cider it­self is fer­mented from pure ap­ple juice, and so of­fers the same health ben­e­fits as ap­ple juice. Cider also con­tains lots of vi­ta­min C and an­tiox­i­dants, as well. In fact hard cider out­weighs green and black tea in an­tiox­i­dants. Ba­si­cally sip­ping cider in mod­er­a­tion and with food is down­right healthy, in my wino opin­ion!

Its health ben­e­fits are only one rea­son why I sip cider. I love its taste and also love that this bev­er­age has a nat­u­ral affin­ity to blue cheese.

Har­mo­niz­ing hors d’oeu­vres in­clude: Blue Cheese, Ap­ple and Sage Honey Cros­tini; Blue Cheese and Ba­con Fo­cac­cia. And soups? How about Broc­coli and Stil­ton Soup, Potato Soup with Blue Cheese and Ba­con, and Spinach and Blue Cheese Soup?

Elder­berry cider also works with recipes in­clud­ing the same berry! A fresh salad of greens with chucks of Gor­gonzola and toasted wal­nuts driz­zled in Elder­berry and Bal­samic Vinai­grette will com­ple­ment this cider.

If you can get your hands on fresh elder­ber­ries, it’s worth mak­ing a clas­sic Pon­tack Sauce, a 17th cen­tury English ketchup. This ketchup is fruity, pun­gent, and spicy and so nicely off­sets the hint of sweet­ness in Rufa’s Elder­berry cider. Add a dol­lop of this sauce to slow roasted pork belly, duck, and lamb.

Here is a sim­ple recipe:

Pon­tack Soup

1 lb. fresh elder­ber­ries 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. cider vine­gar 7 oz. shal­lots, peeled and sliced 6 cloves 4 all­spice berries 1 blade of mace 1 tbsp. black pep­per­corns 1/2 oz. fresh gin­ger, bruised Place the washed elder­ber­ries in an oven­proof glass dish with the vine­gar. Cover and cook in the oven at 250F for 4 to 6 hours. Re­move from the oven and strain through a sieve, crushing the berries with a potato masher as you do so to ob­tain max­i­mum juice.

Put the juice in the sauté pan along with the sliced shal­lots, cloves, all­spice, mace, pep­per­corns, and gin­ger. Bring the mix­ture to a gen­tle boil. Sim­mer for 20 to 25 min­utes or un­til slightly re­duced. Re­move the pan from the heat and strain the mix­ture through a sieve.

Re­turn the juice to the pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 min­utes un­til re­duced again. Pour the sauce into a warm, ster­il­ized bot­tle. Store in a cool, dark cup­board.

POST­MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Elder­ber­ries can be used to make a flavour­ful wine and cider.

SHARI DAR­LING THE SO­PHIS­TI­CATED WINO

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