One of my favorite herbal concoctions to make is Elderberry Syrup. I keep a lot of it on hand for the winter, and make batches for a few of my friends and family members.
Elderberries are considered to be an excellent immune booster and are full of antioxidants. They are high vitamins A, B, especially vitamin C, as well as flavonoids (which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory). Elderberries have historically been used for treating flu, colds, sinus infections, bacterial and viral infections, as well as a host of other health issues. My sister requested that I cook up a batch for her and her kiddos to combat all the wintery viruses going around.
While you can certainly drink elderberries as tea, making this syrup concentrates the medicinal properties further, and adding a sweetener makes the powerful flavor easier to take. My nieces happen to really like it, and will willingly take it.
Note for the vegan police : I used honey in this recipe because it was my sister’s special request for her batch as honey can aid in battling colds and flu. I talked to a bee farmer extensively about honey production and how much honey bees need to store for winter vs how much is harvested. I chose honey from a local farmer who does not take more honey than what is in excess of what the bees use for their winter food storage. So, while I know that honey is not vegan, as this was not a recipe for myself, I created it with the intentions of using honey sourced from a well aware, skilled bee farmer.
This recipe can also be made with an alternative to honey, such as maple syrup, but the honey helps to preserve it longer and does provide additional medicinal properties.
- 1 cup dried elderberries (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 1/2 cups raw honey (local is especially beneficial)
- Pour water and elderberries into stockpot with a lid (do not add the honey yet!)
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 1 hour with lid on. (Leaving the lid on keeps some of the volatile oils from escaping, aka: makes better medicine)
- After simmering for one hour, it should have reduced by close to half. At this point, remove from heat.
- Leaving the elderberries in the pot with the concentrated liquid, mash elderberries using a potato masher or some sort of similar utensil.
- Strain through a mesh strainer. Discard or compost berries.
- Add honey (or maple syrup if that’s what you choose to use) while concentrated liquid is still warm so it dissolves and incorporates.
- Bottle and label. Store in the refrigerator.
The standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. You can take this daily to help boost the immune system before illness strikes. It is recommended that you take it 5 days on and 2 days off, then repeat. If the flu or a cold does occur, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.
It should last in the refrigerator for two weeks, but can potentially last longer. You can also freeze it and thaw when needed.