Why Elderberry Syrup?
Elderberries are a wonderful natural defense against colds and flus during the colder months. They are readily available in the wild in many places and here in southern IN. You can also easily grow your own.
There is a long history of elderberry use to fight infections that can date back to Hippocrates and, quite possibly, even earlier. Elderberries are incredible antivirals, antioxidants, immune boosters, and much more. They can help with sinus issues, allergies, constipation, fatigue, inflammation, cold and flu symptoms, bronchitis, respiratory infections, and even cancer.
This elderberry syrup recipe is so simple, delicious, and effective, it is a wonder it isn't a regular household staple.
How to Use Elderberry Syrup
The batches I make of syrup are enough to fill one pint jar at a time. This is because, although honey is shelf stable for all eternity (nature's perfect food), the berries do allow the syrup to go bad quite quickly. Ours usually lasts, if given the opportunity, between two and six weeks in the refrigerator. Then it is time for a new batch!
When the weather begins to chill, I make my first batch of syrup. I take a tablespoon in my (first cup of) morning coffee, another in my afternoon tea, and finally again in my bedtime tea. This is just a simple way to ensure a three dose-a-day regimen. You can take the syrup plain, on toast or pancakes, in water, or you can get creative!
I enjoy about a tablespoon in each serving, you can always do more or less. Start with less, then pay attention to how your body feels. Take a little more somedays, a little less others. Learn to listen to your body. For children, it is wise to do less. Think in terms of body weight. If they weigh one third your weight, give about one teaspoon, and so on. And be sure to ask how they feel too.
Making the Syrup
To make the elderberry syrup you will need just a few household items:
sauce pan, pint jar, strainer (fine mesh, or cheesecloth, or potato ricer and cheesecloth), and a spoon.
The ingredients for your elderberry syrup can vary. Have fun with it and explore the possibilities!
Here is a simple syrup and below we will discuss variations.
Ingredients for a simple elderberry syrup:
1.5 cups elderberries (I use dried because I dehydrate mine for winter use.
You can also use frozen or fresh. There are no rules!)
3 cups water (spring is best!)
~1 cup raw honey
Variation 1: Add these ingredients to your simple elderberry syrup for a delicious(er?) spicy, warming treat!
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1-3 Tbsp. fresh ginger root (chopped or grated)
Variation 2: You can add 1-3 Tbsp. of one, two, or all of these ingredients to either the simple syrup or variation 1. Have fun!
Rosehips (boost of vitamin C)
Echinacea (For the onset of cold/flu symptoms)
Orange peel (for that citrus boost)
Dried or fresh apple (because yum)
Berries (Add more, a cup or so, to offset the elderberry and use like a pancake syrup! Add more water + honey to this one, too. Wild raspberry elderberry pancakes anyone?)
The possibilities are endless!
Place your ingredients, all but the honey, in a sauce pan and simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or place a cheese cloth in the strainer or ricer then strain. I like to do this so I can then take the berries in the cloth and squeeze out the rest of the juice and goodness. If you are using a ricer, you can then press the juice out without work of berry bits seeping through. I like to use my hands though.
Tip: I do this into a measuring bowl so I can see just how much liquid I have left.
Now you want to add the honey. See how much elderberry juice you have, then put in about 1/3 to 1/2 that amount of honey. For example, if there is 1.5 cups of liquid, I will put in about 1 cup of honey. You can test this for yourself, if you like it sweeter, add honey! Stir it real well so all the honey is dissolved, and ta da! Elderberry syrup.
Note: Use raw honey and always add the honey off the heat to not kill the beneficial bacteria of the raw honey.
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