Quite a buzz about elderberries recently--The benefits & properties of Elderberries have been an increasingly popular topic over the last few years, although use of this amazing plant has been documented for centuries. This Herbal Ally has long been used for preventing & treating all kinds of ailments. A longtime folk-medicine staple, elderberry has been traditionally used to help prevent catching colds & viruses, as well as to shorten the severity & duration of many flu symptoms. Multiple recent scientific studies have confirmed elderberry’s antiviral & immune system supporting properties, as well as its use helpfulness in treating diabetes. Elderberry flavonoids have now been proven block the ability of H1N1 viruses to infect host cells [pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19682714/] & its compounds shown to minimize flu symptoms & strengthen immune response [sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133644.htm.]
used roads, as well as to confirm the plant ID. The challenge is not in finding them, but in hitting them at the extract-right time! The season for ripe berries vacillates wildly from early August through to October, with some berries being perfectly ripe on one shrub, yet not ready on another nearby shrub just down the road! And then, you have to beat the birds & other animals to the harvest. We are not the only creatures ‘hunting’ them!
right away for making syrups & in baking. Berries should always be cooked before consuming. They are quite flavorful & make lovely cakes, tea breads, pies, & jams. I also make some Elderberry Brandy each year to enjoy throughout the long, Maine Winters. [click here for that recipe]
You can also purchase elderberries, fresh or dried, if you don't have access to wild growing fruit. Many health food stores & online herb houses offer them-- although during cold & flu season they can be pretty hard to come by! As I mentioned before, the stems do contain toxins & should be removed before processing. The easiest way to accomplish this is to pop your freshly picked berries in the freezer for about an hour-- the berries can then be easily & quickly ‘combed’ off the stems.
beneficial properties they each provide. [see below] Additionally, I highly recommend using RAW honey as the sweetener for your syrup whenever possible. It is full of powerful antioxidants, nutrients, & enzymes that are still intact because it has never been heated. [please note: honey should not be given to children younger than 1 year old]
Fresh Ginger: Stimulates the immune system to fight bacterial & viral infections. [Particularly effective as an antiviral siting these sources: Found to stop the onset of upper respiratory infections (Holmes, 1997,] as well as stimulating macrophage activity to prevent viruses from attaching to cell walls (Buhner, 2013) ] Cinnamon: A great decongestant & antiviral. Clove: A natural expectorant & very antiseptic. Cardamom: Antibacterial properties & helps to flush toxins. Allspice: Helpful for fevers & colds.
Ultimate Elderberry Syrup
4 cups of Water
2 cups Fresh or Frozen Elderberries [or 1 cup dried]
¼ cup Dried Elderflowers
2-3 inches Fresh Ginger, sliced & peeled
1 large Cinnamon Stick
5 or 6 Whole Cloves [or ½ tsp ground]
2 or 3 Cardamom Pods
2 or 3 Whole Allspice Berries
1 cup Honey, preferably Raw honey
Lemon Balm Tincture, 1 TBS per 8oz
pressing berries to release any extra juice. The spent berries & spices can be thrown in your compost now or put out for the birds--we find they love them! Run the resultant liquid through an extra-fine sieve to completely remove any stragglers or tiny bits. While it is still warm, add your raw honey & stir to dissolve & incorporate. You want your liquid to be warm enough to dissolve the honey, but not too hot in order to preserve the benefits of the raw honey.
Once it has cooled completely, I add the lemon balm tincture for an additional kick of serious antiviral protection. I recommend adding 1 TBS for every 8 ounces of syrup, stirring to fully combine. Your elderberry syrup can then be poured into sterile jars/bottles for keeping. It will last for 4-6 months in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for up to a year. I do not recommend canning it as the additional hot water bath can damage the beneficial properties of the raw honey.
as a preventative. It is an effective immune system booster, & while that is great during illness, or potential exposure to illness, it is not advised to constantly stimulate your immune system. [This is especially true for those with autoimmune issues] Too much of a good thing is possible!
I hope you enjoy this recipe & find the syrup helpful. Let me know what additions you like to add to yours! That is all for this week-- Stay safe & don’t forget to #StopAndEatTheFlowers