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There has been a lot of media coverage lately on the use of the word “witch”.  Well, in a totally gender free and non derogatory way, I thought I would introduce you to history’s greatest witch deflector – the elderberry.

There is evidence of the flowers of this being used in Neolithic times as a tea flavouring (before real tea from China was invented).  When I was a kid, all the old farmhouses in the bush had an elderberry tree planted generally by the front or back steps and I was warned never to eat the little black berries as they were poisonous.  Even then I wondered why you would bother with something you couldn’t pig out on.  It turns out that all those little old celtic and teutonic farmwives understood the importance of witchproofing your house entrances with a good, old elderberry.  I must say, that I have not had any problem with roaming witches since planting these.

Also the fact that the photo is taken hanging out my bedroom window should tell you that its summer here and I’m not going outside, even for a photo opportunity.

But in the grand scheme, elderberry – despite its propensity to get away and feralize the entire garden – is worthwhile planting.  The flowers contain natural yeast and every year I make elderberry champagne by simply soaking the flowers in a weak sugar syrup (or honey syrup), bottling and waiting until they go critical and fizzy.  The flowers can be used to bring along a sour dough or natural brew.  They can be made into a tea which is then used to make a herbal cordial.  The berries must be cooked but they contain a high degree of vitamin C.  And the berries have recently been exploited as stabilised elderberry compound which is bought as a pharmaceutical line and used to reduce the impact of colds and flu.  I must say that I make a rather good elderberry syrup cold cure and I personalize it with extra herbs to fix what ails you at the time.  Sore throat?  Thyme.  Fevers and malaise?  Echinacea.

And bonus?  Lack of witches.