A couple years ago, few people knew what elderberry (Sambucus Nigra or Sambucus canadensis) syrup was. After a nasty flu season, I started to see it everywhere on mainstream grocery store shelves. Elderberry gummies, juice, teas, wine, capsules, jam, and lozenges are all the rage.
Good news can’t be suppressed, so it’s no wonder the knowledge about elderberry has exploded. They are packed with vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties. They may protect the heart too. Lots of people use them to reduce the symptoms of cold and flu.
Fresh or Dried?
Elderberries are only in season for a short time – five to fifteen days between July and September depending upon the climate. Fortunately, they don’t ripen all at once, so if the birds get them one day, you can try again the next. Another bit of good luck is that these plants are found virtually everywhere. When they are out of season or don’t grow in your area, you can use dried elderberries..
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 2 cups dried organic elderberries or 3 cups of fresh elderberries
- 4 cups cold distilled water for cooking
- 2-3 tsp. organic dried ginger root
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 -2 cups raw, local honey (to taste, more will extend the shelf life)
- a cup vodka or brandy (optional, to increase shelf life)
Soak dried elderberries in cold, clean water in a stainless steel pot overnight. Drain in the morning.
Put soaked dried or fresh berries and 4 cups of distilled water in a stainless steel pot and heat until boiling. Turn the heat down low. Simmer for thirty minutes. Don’t simmer too long or the liquid will become very bitter. Strain through a cheesecloth, squeezing all the juice out. Return to the pan and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add honey, lemon juice, and alcohol. Mix well. Store in a sterilized glass jar with a lid. Take one tablespoon per day during the winter as a wellness tonic or as needed for illness.
I believe elderberry syrup is here to stay. I doubt it will be vanishing from the store shelves any time soon, but if you want to feel empowered, get close to Nature, and provide for yourself, now you can make your own!
*Note: Red elderberries Sambucus racemosa, are poisonous and should never be used.