Are you tired of using the over the counter flu and cold medicine? Searching for a better healthier, more natural alternative for your family? Let me introduce you to elderberry syrup, a wonderful immune booster and cold slayer from berries that naturally grow all over the world!
The Journey to the Berry
I have always been fascinated with the medicinal properties of elderberries. So four years ago, I added a small bush. The following year, I took one of its suckers and planted another bush. This year was the first year, the animals didn’t eat all of my flowers so I got a bush load of berries this year.
Picture me doing the happy dance…
Health Benefits of Elderberries:
What is the buzz about elderberries and why are they so dang health for you?
Studies have concluded that elderberries can shorten the duration of influenza.
In 1993, Israeli virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu and her team conducted a placebo controlled double blind study on individuals living in an agricultural community with an outbreak of Influenza.
One of the groups was given Sambocol, which is a standardized elderberry extract. That group saw a 93.3% improvement within 2 days of taking Sambocol as compared to the control group which showed an improvement in 6 days. Her study concluded that Sambocol could offer a safe treatment of influenza A and B.
Thereafter, in Norway, a study was conducted with 60 patients with influenza symptoms that were less than 48 hours. The patients were given either 15 L of elderberry four times a day or a placebo syrup for 5 days. The study concluded that using elderberry syrup relieved the cold and influenza symptoms on average four days earlier than those taking a placebo.
Even better, the berries have more flavonoids to prevent damages to the body’s cells than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries.
In laymen’s terms–those berries are just awesome. Elderberry syrup really shortened my son’s cold too.
Watch renown herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar talk about Elderberry medicine in the below video. You can get a glimpse of what the plant looks like in person.
My bushes are only ten feet tall at this point. (I know. 10 feet! But who is measuring?)
Bring On the Elderberry Syrup
Elderberries aren’t sweet like raspberries. In fact, they can be wee bit bitter. Adding honey will make them more palatable.
I gathered my berries in July/August and then threw them in the freezer until I put the farm to bed for the winter. They freeze beautifully.
*You know I am in love with my freezer. Right? (So much to freeze! So little time.) My freezer is akin to the patient boyfriend that holds your purse when you are shopping.*
“Whenever you are ready, honey.”
So in November, just in time for cold season, out comes the elderberries and the house is filled with the smell of cinnamon and ginger. (Oh, can a farm girl fall for anything with cinnamon and ginger.)
So here is my recipe. You are free to simply cook the elderberries and add honey and skip the other spices.
You can also use this syrup to put on your pancakes or ice cream. You may need to sweeten it to taste. I haven’t made jam with it yet since I still don’t have that large of a harvest.
I am still *sharing* half of my crop. (Okay, more than half.) See the picture above of one of berry stems. Most are gone thank to my flying wonders.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Before I start with my recipe, here are some notes:
- If you have fresh berries then 2 part water to 1 part berries.
- If you have dried berries, then use 4 parts water to 1 part berries.
- If you are using fresh berries, remove the green berries and twigs from your berries. Only use the dark berries.
The berries stain so don’t use wear your best party dress.
4 cups fresh berries or 2 cups dried (Buy dry ones HERE.)
8 cups water
8 two inch pieces of Fresh Ginger (optional)
4-6 Cinnamon Sticks (optional)
4 lemon peels grated. This will help with the acidity if you can. (Again, optional)
Raw Honey, Stevia or Organic Sugar. (Honey is very soothing to the throat.)
Note: Adjust the above ingredients based upon how much you want to make. Generally, you should get about 3 to 4 cups of liquid in this recipe.
1. Add everything to the pot, except the honey, and bring it to a boil.
2. Let it simmer for 45 minutes. Watch it periodically since the liquid can easily boil and then you will lose all that yummy syrup. Half of the liquid will boil away during the simmering.
3. Smash down the berries with a masher to release some of the berry juice. My berries are pretty small so there wasn’t much to smash down. Don’t put in a food process and process. You don’t want the seeds in your syrup.
4. Strain the liquid.
Adding Honey Option:
Let it cool to a warm temperature and then add raw honey to taste. If you let it get cold it may be hard to stir in the honey. (You can buy raw honey at your farmers’ market or HERE.)
Why add raw honey you might ask?
First raw honey isn’t processed so you get all the benefits of the honey.
Second, honey has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes. A study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine revealed that small does of buckwheat honey given at bedtime provided better nighttime cough relief than DM cough suppressant.
Secondly, as I mentioned above, the elderberries are bitter. You will need some sweetener whether it is stevia, sugar, etc to make the syrup more palatable.
Generally, people add 1:1 honey to syrup. So if you have 2 cups of syrup, you add 2 cups of honey. As I mentioned above, add as much honey or other sweetener as you like.
I don’t like very sweet products so I only added a little honey. Do not give honey to children under the age of 1.
If you are going to can this recipe, you can add honey but the heat will destroy the medicinal attributes of the honey. You will also need to add lemon to raise the acidity of the syrup.
How Long Does the Recipe Last?
The recipe can only last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I err on the conservative side. It all depends on the amount of sugar you are adding. So you can do the following:
- You can either can the mixture (a post for another day)
- freeze it in ice cubes then put the ice cubes in a container in your freezer. Take out the cubes you need for the week and defrost them.
- Freeze in a jar with an inch head space to allow for expansion. (Freezer several small jars so you can take what you will use for the month.)
I will be canning mine.
How Much Do you Take?
I am not an herbalist or medical professional. I give my adult son 2 tablespoons when he had a cold. Herablist Rosalee de la Forȇt suggests to take 30-60 grams prepared as a syrup per day, which is 6 to 12 teaspoons a day. Take moderate amounts throughout the day.
Rosalee also suggests taking using the elderberry syrup as a preventative to colds and flus too.
If You Don’t Want to Make Your Own Syrup
If the thought of making your own elderberry syrup is not appealing, you can always buy Sambocal, a commercial product made with elderberry extract. We bought it for years until I realized I can make my own elderberry syrup.
Join the Conversation:
Do you use elderberry for colds and the flu?
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