Autumn season is back. I had been feeling sick for a couple of days so when my husband said there was still elderberries in the trees nearby I decided to give it a go and make my first ever batch of elderberry syrup.
I had a runny nose and sore throat, my left gland in the throat was a bit swollen so I knew I got something. My daughter also had a runny nose.
Up until this point I had always bought the elderberry syrup when I needed it but this was during the weekend so I couldn't wait for the delivery.
I have been wanting to make elderberry syrup for a while but the season seems to bypass me every time. This year all the berries were out really late, courtesy of not having had enough sun this summer.
Like all things it sounds more complicated than it actually is. It takes you longer to read the recipe than actually doing it. It surprised me how easy it was to make.
First I had to drag myself outside and pick the berries, no small feat with a small child that never stops but she was entertained eating blackberries and helping me put the elderberries in a big bowl.
What I like about picking berries and fruit is that my three year old already knows about picking fruit from the trees and she's beginning to understand that everything has a season as opposed to buying apples from the supermarket where they are always available.
Elderberries are easy to pick from the tree, no thorns here, just grab them by the stalk.
Once back home, the elderberries were relatively easy to pull from the stalks and they were big enough to strain in a big colander without going through it.
Make sure the elderberries are ripe, purple in colour rather than just red. Unripe berries can cause nausea and diarrhoea.
How to make elderberry syrup
Since I was in no mood of measuring I just got the elderberries in a pot and double the amount of water, preferably distilled water. I had about an inch of water above the berries. I boiled and simmered them for about an hour or until the water has reduced by nearly half.
I added a cinnamon stick (I think it was too big for the amount of berries) to the water because I read cinnamon has properties against the cold but I think I prefer the taste of elderberry syrup on its own. It has a sweet lovely flavour, deep red colour and my little one loves it.
After 50 minutes simmering I strained it into a colander and pressed the juice of the berries with a wooden spoon. I waited until it cooled down and added good quality honey from a local producer. I just did it to taste and stopped when I thought it was sweet enough. I poured it into a sterilised bottle and hey presto the elderberry syrup was done.
You can sterilise the bottle while the elderberries are simmering by first washing the bottle and then putting it in an oven at 275°F/130°C for 20 minutes. It is important to make sure the bottle has cooled down before pouring the syrup.
The whole process can be summarised in these simple steps:
Equal amounts of berries and honey, double the amount of water.
Elderberries. Water. Boil. Simmer. Cool down. Honey.
You can also add other ingredients to the water to make your elderberry syrup such as rosehips, ginger and cloves.
It needs to be stored in the fridge.
Uses of elderberry syrup
- It is used to prevent colds and flu. If your immune system is low you can take it to boost your immune system.
- You can treat colds and flu.
- It is also effective in dealing with sinus problems.
I was quite happy with the amount of syrup I've got with the effort I put in. There is something gratifying about making your own remedy, taking control of your health and knowing exactly what you are putting into your body.
Obviously, when you make it yourself you know exactly the ingredients that have gone into it. Next time, I'll make it just with the elderberries.
Elderberries work with the body and bring it back to health in no time. I have been using elderberry syrup for a few years now and it is the only thing I use during the winter if I get a bit of a cold. My daughter has not known any other medicine in the rare occasions she gets a bit of a cold.
I normally take a teaspoon through the winter season to boost the immune system.
If I get something I take from a teaspoon to a tablespoon 3 or 4 times a day mixed with water.
For small children just a few drops or half a teaspoon is enough.
I would normally use a dropper.
This recipe is not suitable for children under one-year-old because it contains honey.
I have used it while pregnant and through my breastfeeding time.
For more information I would recommend to contact a qualified herbalist.
Let me know what you think. Have you used elderberry syrup before for colds and flu? Would you give a go at making your own?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am only telling you what works for me. My judgment is not substitute for your own. Follow your intuition and pay attention to your body and what it's telling you.