Back in September, a friend invited me to pick elderberries at her farm. There was no doubt that I would be making medicinal elderberry syrup with those gorgeous orbs, but at the time I was overwhelmed with the garden and all the food preservation work that comes with the high harvest. All those beautiful berries, were promptly put in the freezer to be dealt with when things weren’t quite so overwhelming. This weekend was that time.
Volumes have been written about elderberry and their success at reducing the length and severity of colds and flu. There are, I’m sure, a multitude of ways to make elderberry syrup. I use a combination of methods and recipes I’ve learned over the years as well as my own little take on it.
This is more of method than an actual recipe so that you can adapt it to the amount of elderberries blessing your herbal kitchen. Here’s how to go about making medicinal elderberry syrup for your medicine cabinet:
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Whole Cloves
- Chopped, Fresh Ginger
Put elderberries in a pot with half their volume of water. Simmer and stir occasionally for about 2 hours or until reduced by about half. Strain the berries and squeeze out the juice using cheesecloth or a jelly bag. Unlike making jelly, you want to squeeze the berries and get out as much of the juice as possible rather than letting drain on its own.
Measure out the strained juice, into a clean pot, and for every quart of juice add:
- 1/3 Cup Honey
- 1 inch of Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Whole Clove
- 2 Slices of Lemon
- 2 Tablespoons Chopped, Fresh Ginger
These measurements are approximate, a little more or a little less of any of them isn’t going to ruin your syrup. Return this pot to the stove and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and bottle. You can store the syrup in the fridge, freezer, or can for 10 minutes in a water bath (adjusting time for elevation).
To use your medicinal elderberry syrup: Take 1 teaspoon every hour the minute you feel a cold or flu coming on. This concoction has worked wonders for me over the years and while I’m not a doctor and can’t treat whatever ails you, next time you have a cold or flu you might just want to give this a try.
Some great elderberry (and general herbal medicine) resources – most of which I used as source info for this article and my own elderberry / herbal education:
- Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal
- Exploring Elderberry
- The Essential Herbal for Natural Health by Holly Bellebuono
- Don’t have access to fresh elderberries? Check out this recipe using dried elderberries.
Do you use elderberry as part of your herbal medicine chest? Any other suggestions for making medicinal elderberry syrup?
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