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oh, and my more mundane crafts as well.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Herbalism: Elderberry Syrup

I noticed yesterday morning that Kara was coming down with a cold. Being that I have no intention of sharing in said bug, I started last night in dosing her with the organic Peppermint leaf & Elder flower tea (sweetened with honey as she isn't a tea fan).

I have made her spend the day napping on the sofa while I occasionally approach her with food, water and more tea. She's making good progress through the day, if only I could get her to stop throwing the blanket off when her body kicks into bug-fighting mode and her internal temperature goes up. I'm not frustrated with her, though, it's not her fault if she's not awake when she kicks the blanket off ... but fever serves a useful purpose in helping make the body an inhospitable place for a foreign invader (microbe).

To help bolster the fact that, at best, I'm going to get her to take 3 mugs of herbal tea (and I know she's only doing that to humour me) ... I decided to use the small stock of elderberries I had on hand and make up some Elderberry Syrup.

The ingredients are easy:

Gathered the ingredients together.
That funny looking red dish with the yellow brush-like thing  sitting
on top of it is my current culinary pride and joy. It's a grater that originates
in France and works like a dream for things like chocolate, nuts, garlic, ginger and
just about anything else I need to have grated really fine.

  • 1/2 cup of dried Sambucus nigra (Black Elder) berries -- they are the only variant of the Elder which has the scientifically proven flu fighting effect. The other variants make a tasty wine, syrup, or jam with lots of beneficial nutrition to them but not the medicinal effect that we're looking for here.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 5 whole cloves
You also need a non-aluminum pot to cook with, a wooden or bamboo spoon, a jelly straining bag (or cheesecloth) and clean jars to bottle the end result. 
Begin by placing into the pot all the ingredients listed above EXCEPT the honey. 
Cover firmly and set it on the stove and heat to boiling.

Heating the elderberries, the water, the cinnamon stick, the ginger,
and the cloves to a nice roiling boil.
 Once the contents boil, you want to turn the heat down to a simmer and, keeping it covered, allow it to reduce to about 1/2 it's beginning amount. So, being that you started with 2 cups of water, you want to end up with 1 cup of fluid in the pot before you turn the stove off.

Switching to the simmer.

Once it's cool enough to touch, pour the contents -- CAREFULLY -- into the jelly bag over a bowl and squeeze out as much of the fluid as you can. Please be careful as the berry-mass can stay hot quite a while and you will BURN yourself if you are not.

Once the last of the fluid is squeezed out of the jelly bag, you want to pour the cupful of honey into the still hot/warm elderberry juice and stir until it is well dissolved. Then you will want to pour the whole thing into a jar or two (keeping in mind that you'll end up with roughly 2 cups of syrup) and refrigerate.

Finished product ready for the refrigerator. 

When you go to use it, you want to dose the individual as follows:

Adults ................................................................ 2 Tablespoons, 2-3 times per day
Children ............................................................. 2 teaspoons, 2-3 times per day
Babies ............................................................... 1/4 teaspoon, 2-3 times per day

Begin dosing when you notice the first hints of cold or flu and cease the day after they feel well enough to resume normal life (as in, not when the need to make money requires you to get out of bed and back to work, but rather the day after you actually feel better.)


  1. My Grandmother use to make the best pies with elderberry. I've recently changed her pie recipe by adding an apple and eliminating some of the sugar. I like how the berry seeds stick to your teeth and crunch when you eat this pie.

    1. That is so cool, Thanks for sharing!

      I managed to pick up a Sambucus nigra var. Black Beauty two days ago *happy dancing*, so I have high hopes for being able to experiment with fresh berries. Pie sounds like a fantastic option.

      I'm hoping to go back to the nursery in a month or so and pick up a second one, so I'll have one plant for the flowers needed for my herbal flu tea and one plant for the berries ^_^