Alchemy Meets Superfood: DIY Elderberry Syrup Recipe
I confess. I’m more than a little obsessed with elderberry syrup. Most of my friends will tell you, not only have I strongly suggested they take it, when sick with anything from sniffles to the flu, I’ve either sent them a link to where they can buy the syrup, supplied a recipe, or shipped them a bottle. Usually I’m not the bossy type. Especially about wellness tips. But when it comes to the healing properties of this teensy deep purple berry, I’ve seen firsthand what it can do, and I’m convinced, elderberry is living proof of magic, nature’s that is.
Over the centuries elderberry has been impressively dubbed “Queen of Herbs.” Native Americans would utilize all parts of the tree for medicinal and practical purposes. And in fairy and goddess mythology, a wise spirit called the “Elder Mother,” was believed to guard her tree, making certain no harm came to it. Thought of as a type of blessing with protective properties, people were convinced, if an elderberry tree stood near a home, it would prevent negative spirits and energies from entering one’s doors.
Hans Christian Anderson’s, fairytale “the Elder-Tree Mother,” told of a little boy on the verge of catching a cold, who was given elderberry tea as a curative. But before the boy could take his first sip, wild unruly branches sprouted from the teapot! Soon they expanded into a lush tree, covered in fragrant white blooms. And there, perched right at the base of its trunk… was a sweet old lady, dressed in green, seemingly part of the tree. As the boy listens to a story about the highly protective Elder-Tree Mother, he discovers that she shares her wisdom with those who sit beneath her branches. Through nature, she cures what ails them, and illuminates the hidden beauty of their lives.
Today the Queen of Herbs still watches over us, by offering her natural protection. Also known as Sambucus, black elderberry or European elderberry, the berries are medicinal powerhouses, rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, B and C. And if that’s not enough, they contain carotenoids, amino acids, flavonoids, phosphorus, as well as potassium and calcium. Unlike blueberries, mulberries or raspberries, these berries must never be eaten raw, as they contain cyanide and are poisonous.
The syrup, made from cooked berries, is used to boost immunity, fight colds, sore throats and prevent the flu virus from setting in. Tart and sweet, elderberry is easy to like. And because it tastes so good, you might think it can’t possibly work. Folklore aside, there have been many science studies about the curative abilities of elderberry. One health study in Norway, researched the syrup antiviral activity of elderberry, by giving it to sixty subjects with influenza symptoms, and observed them over a 48 hour period. Researchers discovered the subjects healed on average 4 days faster, than those who hadn’t taken the syrup, and concluded that elderberry syrup was a safe and effective natural remedy. Of course, you can always buy a bottle online. But it’s much more fun to play alchemist in your kitchen and mix up your own healing elixir.
Here’s a basic recipe to get started. Use it to scare away an oncoming cold or flu, or boost immunity all year round.
What you’ll need:
3/4 Cup Dried Elderberries
3 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Honey, or 1 Teaspoon Stevia
1/4 tsp Almond or Raspberry Extract
Large Mason jar
*I encourage you to express your creativity. Feel free to add things you love, such as fresh (or powdered) ginger, peppermint leaves, cinnamon or dry lavender flowers, all of which, have potent anti-inflammatory properties and are lovely aromatic additions.
Please note, as with any holistic treatment, it’s important to make certain it’s safe for you. And since elderberry may cause the immune system to accelerate, it is not recommended for those with autoimmune disorders. Before taking the syrup, please check possible side effects on Wed Md.
How to create:
Thoroughly wash elderberries, then place in a saucepan with water over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer for a minimum of 60 minutes. Stir in honey until dissolved. If you are adding additional ingredients, put them in now. Shut off flame and leave covered for another hour. Mash berries with a fork to release more juice. Pour through a strainer and extract the liquid. Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator in a covered mason jar. Keeps for 2 months.
Take 1-2 teaspoons per day for medicinal purposes, or as needed to boost immunity.