Health – Elderberries

The elderberry is a member of the Sambucus genus of flowering plants. The berries are found in clusters and are typically either black, blue-black or red in color. In its raw state, the elderberry contains glycoside which makes it poisonous, but when cooked, it is edible.

Because of the elderberry’s natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and immune-stimulating properties, it is used for medical purposes. Elderberry syrup is probably one of the best homemade herbal remedies you can make, and is particularly good at fighting colds and flus.

Elderberry Syrup

Put six cups of fresh elderberries (or three cups dried) in a pot with six cups of water.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about one hour, or until reduced by nearly half. Leaving the pot uncovered while simmering, allows the steam to escape and will help to remove any potential toxins. It will also help the mixture to reduce. If you feel the mixture is reducing too fast, partially cover the pot while it is simmering.

Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool, but you’ll want it to cool to a warm room temperature so that the honey will easily dissolve, but not too hot or the benefits of the raw honey will be lost.

Strain the elderberries using a fine mesh sieve, pressing the berries to get any extra liquid out. You might want to line the sieve with cheesecloth. This will help squeeze out all the liquid from the berries. You should end up with at least one quart of mixture.

Add 2/3 cup of raw honey and stir until it dissolves. Do not heat again.

Ladle the syrup into a quart jar, placing the lid and ring to fingertip tight. Let it cool completely and refrigerate for up to six months. Elderberry syrup can also be frozen. Discard the berries. With all the beneficial compounds now in the elderberry and water mixture, the berries have no real use at this point.

For medicinal use adults should take 1-2 tablespoons of the syrup 2-3 times per day at the onset of a cold or flu, and throughout the duration of the illness. While you might want to use the syrup for a short time as a preventative if you believe you were exposed to illness, but not yet experiencing symptoms, it is not recommended to take it daily as a preventative, especially for those with autoimmune issues. The syrup is safe for children over the age of one—because of the raw honey in the syrup, it would be harmful for children under the age of one year old. A child’s dose would be 1-2 teaspoons twice a day. The dosage can be increased as the child grows.

Beyond its medicinal uses, elderberry syrup is also delicious and full of vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids! It can be used in moderation as a treat on pancakes, in ice cream and tea, desserts, candies, jams and jellies, or as a nice cold drink on a hot summer’s day.

Black Elderberry Slushie

2 cups ice

1 cup juice (orange, grape, pomegranate)

1 tsp black elderberry syrup

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed.

Pulse a few times, then blend until the consistency of a slushie.

Serve immediately, drizzle with additional black elderberry syrup if desired.