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Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberries and jar of elderberry syrup

Elderberry syrup improves immunity

Interested in keeping happy and healthy amid the threat of COVID-19? Don’t want to dish out $20 for retail elderberry syrup? You’re in the right place.

Benefits of elderberry

During a recent how-to class, I showed the participants how to make a delicious elderberry-flavored kombucha. Elderberries pack a powerful punch in assisting your immunity.

Elderberry syrup can be made with dried elderberries, honey, and herbs for an immune-boosting syrup. They naturally contain vitamins A, B, and C and stimulate the immune system. Research has found the complex sugars in elderberries support the immune system in fighting cold and flu.

Uses throughout history

These tiny berries, most often found dried in the bulk section of any natural grocery store, have been used for generations in folk medicine for seasonal immunity. Native Americans utilized the entire elder bush, and used some parts to specifically treat fever and rheumatism. The leaves have been used as an insect repellent and insecticide. In 1993 the syrup treated victims of the Panama flu pandemic.

The bush’s root was once used as purgative but is poisonous to humans due to a cyanide-inducing chemical compound.

According to Scandinavian folklore, the elder bush is said to be sacred to Frau Holle, the feminine spirit of the woods and plants, represented in various cultural stories. Associated with fertility and rebirth, she was known to watch over children during the cold months. Holding authority over life’s end, she was a bridge between life and death.

Katie holding elderberry syrup

How to use elderberry syrup

Implement a spoonful into your daily routine to keep your defenses up. I take a tablespoon daily before bed from January – May to boost immunity.

Implement a spoonful in your daily routine to keep your defenses up. I take a tablespoon daily before bed to boost immunity from January – May. This makes for a sweet nighttime ritual during the cold Wisconsin winters and cool, damp springs. Each time you take a sip, notice how the syrup affects you and your energy levels. Feels good to take care of yourself, doesn’t it?

The timeline also aligns with times of the year that I travel for work. Spending time in airports, buses, shared-ride services, and hotels can test anyone’s immune system. I view elderberry syrup as another layer of protection, in addition to the best practices of hygiene and frequent handwashing.

As with everything, please take elderberry in moderation. Too much may have adverse, diuretic effects.

If you are lucky enough to have an elderberry shrub, you can harvest its berries. The shrub (best in Grow Zones 3-9) will produce fruit after three years and can be used in landscapes for white blossoms in addition to the dark, dramatic, beneficial berries.

My Syrup Recipe

3 cups water
2/3 cup black elderberries (dried)
6 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger (dried or minced is acceptable, but I prefer fresh)
2 tsp  cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
1 cup raw, local honey

Instructions

  1. Place three cups water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil and cover loosely (place a wooden spoon handle between your pot and cover for venting).
  3. Reduce to a low simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in honey, let cool a bit.
  6. Pour through a strainer or cheesecloth into a glass mason jar.
  7. Discard the elderberries after you thank them for their service.
  8. Cover your jar with a lid and refrigerate.

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