As we enter cold and flu season, dear reader, it is good to have a small batch of elderberry syrup in your refrigerator at the ready. This small addition to your home apothecary is an excellent supplement for boosting your immune system and can be used to help improve the symptoms of the cold and flu.
Elderberry refers to the different varieties of the Sambucus tree, with European elderberry or black elder (Sambucus nigra) being the most common. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and has clusters of small white (or cream) colored flowers known as elderflowers and the berries are found in small black or blue-black bunches.
The use of the elder plant dates back thousands of years. Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine,’ referred to the elder plant as his ‘medicine chest’ of all herbs because of the many benefits of using the plant and the usability of the whole plant. Historically, the flowers and leaves have been used for pain relief, swelling, inflammation, to stimulate the production of urine and to induce sweating. The bark was used as a diuretic, laxative and to induce vomiting (Mandl, E.). Today, many use the elderberries as a supplement to treat the cold and flu because they are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants.
In addition to its medicinal uses, elderberries are an excellent culinary treat. The berries can be cooked and used to make juice, jams, chutneys, pies and elderberry wine. The flowers are often boiled with sugar to make a sweet syrup or infused into tea. But please note, cooked ripe elderberries are perfectly edible. However, unripe elderberries are poisonous. Raw berries can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other symptoms, so be sure to cook them before eating (Orr, E.).
To Make Elderberry Syrup
- 1 cup dried elderberries
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp whole clove
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup raw honey (preferably local honey)
- Sauce pan
- Spoon to stir
- Strainer or cheesecloth for separating plant material from the liquid
- Mixing bowl
- Container for final product
- Combine the dried elderberries, cinnamon sticks, whole clove, and water into the saucepan. Bring to a boil on the stove.
- Once the mixture begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the mixture with a lid. Allow it to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After the 45 minutes have passed, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool for about an hour or until you can comfortably handle the mixture.
- Use the strainer/cheesecloth (or your preferred method) to separate the plant materials from the liquid into a mixing bowl.
- Add the raw honey to the liquid and stir until well mixed. (Please note that the resulting syrup is going to have a ‘runnier’ consistency than expected. It will not have the consistency of maple syrup.)
- Use the ladle and funnel (if needed) to pour the syrup into the your container of choice.
- Store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to several months.
Take a spoonful of the syrup daily as an addition to your health regime.
On days that I can feel a sore throat coming on, I tend to take a spoonful 3-4 times that day until I’m feeling better.
I hope you and your family stay safe and healthy this upcoming cold and flu season, and I hope this simple supplement benefits everyone in your home. Take care, dear reader.
Mandl, E. (2018, March 08). Elderberry: Benefits and Dangers. Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/elderberry
Orr, E. (n.d.). Elderflower & Elderberry. Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://www.wildedible.com/wild-food-guide/elderberry
Disclaimer: If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.