As some of you might have guessed, my wife is the hippy dippy one of the bunch in this family. Sometimes I play along, sometimes I don’t. We play together when it comes to elderberry syrup. But it wasn’t always that way. Let me tell you a story…
My city has a drive by flu clinic in addition to the regular Health Department situation. You sit in your car, pull up to the nurse, and boom, she sticks ya! Does that sound weird at all? Because it still sounds weird to me. Anyway, this particular year, it must have been about eight years ago now, we go to the drive up nurse. She hits me and the wife up and of course, my wife makes a big stink about it. The nurse was too rough, too hard, she really hates me, the needle hit my bone and broke upon impact kind of thing. The SAME thing she says every year.
But this year was actually different. I came out unscathed, but for whatever reason, her arm hurt. For a long time. Almost six months. She couldn’t lift a pillow with that arm without having to use both arms. It did go away, she reported it to the CDC or whoever keeps track of that kind of thing, but she never got the flu shot again.
She cracked open her trusty herbal, natural book things and did some research and came upon elderberries. Maybe she did some strange dance in the moonlight, I’m not sure, I didn’t ask too much about it. She found some research about edlerberry’s ability to prevent and treat the flu, cutting the duration down.
So, she found some organic dried elderberries on Amazon and she made this delicious syrup. Once October came, she took it once a day. Never got sick, not even a cough, which she’s prone to. Next year came, she did the same thing. Never got sick. Not even a cold dudes. All this time I still go get the flu shot. I’m not trying to ask for trouble, you know?
The NEXT year, I didn’t get the flu shot and I’m not sure why. Probably procrastination or forgetfulness, but she gave me the syrup too. I didn’t get sick with anything. I haven’t gotten the flu shot since.
And, as an added bonus, after doing some research on the plants themselves, I realized they are everywhere. I even had one growing in my backyard for years and never knew it. They are all over my town and most states in the south that I’ve been through. This is what they look like from a great channel, Eat the Weeds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXFVfQMfZ8w
When you harvest, put them in a garbage bag and then freeze. When frozen, you just shake and they come off painlessly. Because truthfully, they’re a pain in the a#! otherwise, because they are small and plentiful. I harvested fresh only one time in these years and just stick with dried because you have to fight the birds. They love those things and will devour the berries before you can ever get to them. You got to be real lucky to get a hold of them before those suckers!
Information abounds on the internet and in books on the benefits of elderberries, but here’s a quick list: Can possibly lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. According to WebMD, some of these are not fully proven, like the heart health. But is is in fact shown to boost immunity and treat the flu, some say as well as prescription flu medications. It was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.
And…and…you can give it to both children and adults with no known side effect. Yes!
You can buy elderberry medicine at the store, in a teeny tiny bottle between $10-$15 bucks. We buy this one pound bag of dried organic elderberries for $16.00. You can make a lot of syrup with this.
You can can it. Can can it? No, seriously, you may can it. I’ll include instructions for that. You can use your pressure cooker instead of the stovetop method too. I’ll tell you how to do that as well.
Stay healthy my friends!
1 cup dried elderberries or fresh
6 cups water
3 sticks cinnamon
1 inch of ginger, or more if you like it, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup raw honey
orange zest, optional
Combine elderberries and water in a saucepan and bring to 180 degrees. Do not let it boil. Simmer in this state for 30 minutes.
Turn burner to low and add cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Let sit on low for 1 hour.
Remove from heat, strain in nut bag or fine mesh colander. Let cool until to just warm, where the honey will still combine but not too hot. You don’t want to kill the goodies in the honey. Stir until honey is dissolved.
Taste, add more honey if needed.
Save the berries and do it all over again if you want to.
Store in an airtight jar for up to 1 month in the fridge.
ELDERBERRY SYRUP IN YOUR PRESSURE COOKER
Using the ingredients above, put it all in your pressure cooker except the honey. Pressure on high for 9 minutes, let the pressure come down naturally. Let it sit for about one hour. Remove the lid and, making sure the mixture is warm to the touch but not, stir in the honey. Strain and do it all over again with the strained mess if you want to. Or strain and store.
HOW TO USE
ADULTS: Take 1-2 tablespoons per day, or 3 per day if you feel you’re getting sick.
CHILDREN: Take 2 teaspoons per day, or 2 tablespoons if they feel they’re getting sick. Do not use on children under one years of age
CANNING YOUR ELDERBERRY SYRUP – WATERBATH
Our Simple Farm has really clear instructions on how to can your elderberry syrup. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I don’t actually can my elderberry syrup because I don’t make enough at one time to can it. Like I said, I can’t get to the berries before the birds, so I just make enough to fill a few quart mason jars and use it up.
There are probably more factors playing a role in this no sickness situation than JUST the elderberry. Like, since no flu shots, we are crazy hand washers. Not with hanitizer (hand + sanitizer = hanitizer) but good old soap and water, no triclosan either. We clean door knobs daily when flu season hits. Remotes and light switches when a visitor has touched them, otherwise once a week.