Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Tonics : Elderberry Syrup

We like to prepare our herbal medicine cupboard with teas (e.g. a Winter Flu tea blend, and lots of peppermint), tinctures (e.g. astragalus, rosehip, elderberry, echinacea), and cough syrups (e.g. sage-horehound) before winter.  Recently a friend mentioned making elderberry syrup for her kids.  They loved it and it was a nice way to administer the healthful benefits of elderberries, without needing to use an alcohol base like a tincture would.  Syrups are preserved by honey or sugarand have a long shelf life.  So, we made a batch and yes, it is absolutely delicious.  It tastes sweet and rich like dense bursts of berries, and is thickened with local honey (we used buckwheat honey which made the syrup even darker).  Elderberries are one of the oldest remedies for colds, flu, respiratory infections, and many other conditions.  Elderberries are rich in antioxidants, contain 3 different flavonoids and boost the immune system.  The syrup can be taken by the teaspoonful (2-3 tsp/day as needed) or added to tea, juice, water, etc.  I like to spread it on toast or pancakes.  Isn't the best way to create vibrant health simply by "letting food be your medicine"?  Where to get elderberries?  I would highly advise planting at least one elderberry bush in your garden/yard, as this is such a valuable plant.  However, if you don't have a good local source, excellent quality organic dried elderberries can be purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Elderberry Syrup
1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
1 cup honey (or sugar) for every 1/2 cup elderberry tea

1. Place elderberries and water into saucepan and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.  Close lid and let steep for another 30 minutes after this.  You are making a very strong tea (infusion).

2. Crush berries, then strain the liquid through a fine-meshed cheesecloth.

3. Measure your liquid, and return it to the saucepan.  Add 1 cup honey per 1/2 cup elderberry tea.  Return to heat on low, stirring occasionally, and let the liquid boil down until you have the desired consistency you want for your syrup.

4. This is a very sweet syrup and can be preserved unrefrigerated.  Use 1-3 tsp per day, as needed.  Not for children under 2 years old.  If you wish to reduce the sweetness you can store your syrup in the fridge.

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