Winter I fear you not. Bring on the Elderberry Syrup.

While it’s not technically winter just yet the sub 30 degree mornings make it feel as if it is.  It’s no secret that I find little joy in saying good-bye to the warm, mild days and I’m still working on embracing and making my peace with November to March.  It’s time to bundle up and pull out the stops in keeping this family healthy through these long New England winters.  One line of defense is the daily shot of elderberry syrup.

Why this?  It’s simply one effort this mamma implements in giving her family the best chances of ducking the flu and staving off the endless stream of colds knocking at the door.  To me a shot a day of this sweet elixir is much more palatable then a manufactured vaccine with less than impressive success rates.

The quality of ingredients in store bought elderberry syrup doesn’t jazz me and those bottles in our cabinet have been on my radar for a while.  This past week I finally took the leap into making my own.  I have to say it’s so much more tasty than any I’ve ever purchased and the ingredients alone make it a far healthier choice.

There are countless posts out there that explain the science behind how elderberry works however I’ve always been more about knowing that something works over the why or how.  I need to step up my game on that front, but in the meantime I share the following recipe.  It’s another that doesn’t take all that much effort, is cost effective and allows you to control the quality of ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) – When it comes to fruit I try to purchase locally from farms I trust and then if unsuccessful I purchase organic.  As a member of the Holistic Moms Network member you can purchase organic elderberries through the Frontier co-op or you can find them online at Vitacost.
  • 3.5 c. water
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh (or dried) ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves or clove powder
  • 1 c. raw honey – keeping it local for optimal health benefits

Directions:

  • Pour water into a saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and clove.  Do NOT add the honey.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until the mixture has reduced at least one half.
  • If you have a food mill, pass the mixture through it using the disk with the smallest holes.
  • If you’re using a strainer, press the mixture through a small sieve strainer.
  • Optional:  Cover a glass bowl with cheesecloth and squeeze the mixture through your cheesecloth.
  • Once the mixture is warm (not hot or cool), stir in honey until dissolved.
  • Place in a glass jar and refrigerate.

Helpful hint:   If you’re using dried elderberries and planning ahead, reconstitute the berries by placing them in 3.5 cups of water the night before.  Let sit overnight and then use the same water for your recipe.  If the opportunity spontaneously arises in your busy day, no worries you can simply make the recipe using your non-reconstituted dry elderberries.

Ingredients:

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Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the honey and bring to a boil.

Bring to a boil

Cover and let simmer 45 – 60 minutes or until reduced by at least a half.

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Pass your mixture through a food mill or a strainer.

A strainer works well too!

In the past anything that required the use of cheesecloth was outright dismissed.  At age 45 I’m proud to say I’ve conquered my fear of using it.  So go ahead, grab that cheesecloth, place it over your bowl and pour you strained brew into it.  Give it a squeeze to remove any remaining bits of berries especially if you have a consistency sensitive little one you’re trying to woo.

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Place in a glass mason jar and refrigerate.

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Take daily as a preventative measure or immediately if you feel something coming on.  Here’s to your cold weather health!

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