Why Elderberry Syrup
By now if you are in any contact with the holistic community, you have heard about Elderberry Syrup. I discovered the powerful anti-viral remedy while pregnant with my first baby. Never having been being a big believer in the flu shot, I was thrilled to discover a preventative approach to ward off colds and flu from my midwives. They recommended taking 4000 IU’s of Vitamin D, 1000mg of C, and 2 teaspoons of Black Elderberry Syrup each day. I worked in a large office and although exposed to plenty of nasty germs, including the flu, I remained healthy and ready to deliver my winter baby that year. In subsequent years, I continue to take and give my family of four this powerful anti-flu syrup as soon at the first sign of colds and sniffles. I began making my own Elderberry syrup (and sometimes Elderberry jello cubes – recipe coming soon) because I found the cost to be prohibitive when taken by four of us daily. So I set off on my search to find supplies to make a large batch of syrup for my own family and to share with our friends and family (it makes a great gift too!)
Elderberry – a Quick Profile
Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat wounds and respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. Evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries work to reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, as well as help to relieve nasal congestion. Elderberries may also have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.
The Elderberry also contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may help prevent cellular damage. But of course (as is common with inexpensive remedies) very few studies have been done in humans, so researchers don’t know how effective Elderberry truly may be….so we must rely on centuries worth of reliance on this powerful berry.
It is believed that Elderberry’s mode of action treats cold and flu symptoms by reducing congestion. One study found that taking elderberry extract could shorten the duration of flu by about 3 days! Another preliminary study found that taking elderberry extract within 24 hours of first symptoms helped reduce flu (source).
How to Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup at Home
Note: this makes a gigantic batch (3 quarts worth!) & needs to be stored in refrigerator or freezer (once cooled). You can also do what I do and share the love…or simply cut the recipe in half.
2 cups dried elderberries (I buy mine here)
1 large piece of fresh ginger
4 whole cinnamon sticks (I buy mine here)
8-10 whole cloves (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cranberries (for added vitamin c/optional)
13 cups of water
4 cups of raw honey (I’ve been buying this when I can’t find a local source)
Large Stock Pot
Strainer or Cheese Cloth
Glass bottles for storing syrup
Rubber/disposable kitchen gloves (optional but recommended)
- Peel and slice ginger. (If you’re using organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it – just give it a good scrubbing)
- Add the dried elderberries, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cranberries to a large stock pot.
- Add the water, set the pot on the stove and bring to a rolling boil
- Once boiling, turn heat down to simmer, cover the pot and crack the lid a bit
- Simmer for an hour with the lid cracked. After an hour, uncover and let cool on the stove until it stops steaming.
- Pull out the solids (ginger, cinnamon sticks and cloves) and discard. Strain the liquid into a large bowl.
- Press the berries around in the strainer to get as much juice out of them as you can (I use a large metal spoon but I still end up with stained fingers so you may want to wear some rubber or disposable gloves). You can also squeeze the berries through cheesecloth. When finished, discard the berry pulp.
- Once the liquid drops to 110 degrees F or less, add your raw honey and whisk, making sure to break up any little clusters of honey.
- Bottle and refrigerate (I use a couple quart size jars for storing and then a few smaller glass bottles to keep in my refrigerator for daily use such as these.
Yields: About 3 quarts (12 cups)
Have you ever used Elderberry syrup? Please share your experience!