Last year around this time of year I came across some information regarding elderberry syrup and its benefits in boosting the immune system. Seeing as I have 4 children with 2 of them in school, I’m aaaaall about immune system boosting. Particularly in the months of October thru March.
Elderberries are full of antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, B, and C. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and have been used for thousands of years as folk medicine.
It’s components are simple, it mainly consists of elderberry juice and honey. I figured it was worth a try. I ordered a pound of dried elderberries and have made several batches over the last year. My family loves it. The kids ask for it on a daily basis and slurp in up in a flash (what kid doesn’t love fruity honey?). We take the syrup 5 days a week, with a two day break. The easiest way for me to do this is two give everyone a spoonful of syrup in the morning with breakfast, Monday thru Friday. Saturday and Sunday we don’t take it.
Elderberry syrup has made a world of difference for our family over the past year. I won’t be without it in my fridge. We go through about 1 batch every two-three months.
I ran out of dried elderberries last week and decided that it was high time I went foraging for them! I knew that there were several trees growing on the canyon roadside about 10 minutes away from my home since I’d past them in the springtime when the trees were full with bunches of creamy, tiny blossomed flower clusters.
Who doesn’t love free elderberries?! My awesome neighbor and all the littles came along on our little foraging trip and we came away with a giant basketful of beautiful blue elderberries, 2 wasps, and more itsy bitsy spiders than I care to think about *shudder*.
A few Elderberry foraging & processing tips:
*Make sure you know exactly what you are looking for. Research your quarry well before seeking it out. There are a lot of varieties of edibles out there and if you don’t know what you re looking for you could end up with something poisonous. Take elderberries – Red elderberries are poisonous, as well as the bark, stems, and leaves of all varieties. Certain varieties of black elderberries are perfectly edible, as well as the blue variety (which is the one I used here).
*Take care to discard stems and leaves of elderberries after picking.
*Don’t pick everything you find! Leave some for other foragers and the birds.
*Pick elderberries only when ripe as unripe elderberries can cause stomach upset. Berries will be soft and can be plucked easily from their stems when fully ripe.
*Blue elderberries may look more powdery white than blue. This is due to a bloom of naturally occurring yeast that coats the berries and is harmless.
*Rinse the berries on the stem before removing to get rid of any little bugs or unwanted debris. I place my clusters of berries in a large bowl, fill with water, and gently swirl the water around the berries, then drain. Repeat this one or two more times.
*Don’t pick the berries of their stems one at a time! Here is the greatest secret of elderberry foraging you can ever be given: Freeze the clusters of berries first. Once frozen, place them over a large bowl and simply run your fingers through the clusters. The hard berries will fall off with ease! Then you can discard the stems and turn the berries into syrup, freeze them, or dehydrate them.
*If you don’t want to or can’t forage for elderberries, they are available dried from many places online.
You can use this syrup medicinally, or you can even use it as a condiment! Pancakes, waffles, French toast….I think they could all benefit from a delicious dose of elderberry syrup 😉
More Natural Remedies & Herbal Recipes:
- 2 cups Fresh Elderberries (or use ⅔ cup Dried Elderberries)
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 2 tablespoons Dried Rosehips (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Dried Orange Peel (optional)
- 2 cups Water
- 1 cup Raw Honey
- Place the elderberries, cinnamon stick, rosehips, orange peel, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium/high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer the mixture until it has reduced by half, about 30 minutes or so.
- Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the mixture, pressing on the solids to extract juice. Discard solids.
- Let liquid cool for at least 20 minutes. Stir in the honey until fully combined.
- Pour the syrup into a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.