• Zmey

Elderberry Syrup and Will Power

Updated: Jun 15

Every year, inevitably, everyone's least favorite season comes around; flu season. The season isn't just about influenza, though, it's a plethora of respiratory infections, all trying to gang up on us while we try to get through holidays, shopping, family get-togethers, and workplaces full of coughing, sneezing, sniffling people.



Eating healthy only goes so far, of course, and many people end up eating a lot of things they shouldn't during the holidays, as there is so much temptation all around. The best thing you can do for your body is not to eat those goodies that are going to crash your immune system! Make your own at home, with healthy ingredients and bring them along to the family gatherings, or, if you have that kind of will power, just pass up the soy, HFCS, artificial-colored and -flavored not-goodies.


The next best thing, if I get sick, despite my best efforts to resist unhealthy foods, despite all my tricks with essential oils, herbal remedies, and everything else in my natural arsenal, is to break out the elderberry syrup. No matter how perfectly we take care of ourselves, we are human and it's bound to happen, especially when so many people in our society don't have the luxury of calling off work sick when they are coughing germs across the counter.



You can buy elderberry syrup or gummies from online stores or local markets. Even places like CVS and Walgreens carry a national brand called Sambuccal. If you're like me, however, and all about the DIYing because you can make sure good goes in, then roll up your sleeves. This recipe is easy and delicious, as well as customizable once you have the hang of it.



Some things I've found that are helpful in getting picky children and adults to take elderberry syrup if they don't care for the taste is to make it into gummies or to add fruit juices, which I will give directions for below the recipe and optional herb suggestions.


Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Firecider, another fun DIY that I use when the nasties hit.


( Disclaimer: be sure to check with your care provider before taking anything you are unsure of. This is not medical advice. )


Supplies:


  • Stainless steel quart pot or pressure cooker (like Instant Pot)

  • Stainless steel stirring utensil, or other non-porous material

  • Mesh strainer and cheesecloth or nut milk bag

  • Heat-poof glass jar (like a mason jar)


Ingredients:


  • 3 1/2 cups of water

  • 1/2 cups dried elderberries

  • 1-inch ginger, cut into 1/4 inch slices

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1 cup raw honey


Directions:


  1. Combine berries (and the optional herbs) with cold water in a pot and bring it to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat and allow the berries (and any optional herbs) to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

  3. Remove from the heat and let everything steep for 1 hour.

  4. Strain the berries and herbs through your strainer lined with the cloth or through your nut milk bag (it will stain, be warned). Be sure to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

  5. Discard the used herbs in the trash or your compost pile.

  6. Once the liquid has cooled to just above room temperature, add in the honey and stir to incorporate. If it cools too much the honey may not incorporate easily. If it's too hot it may damage some of the healing properties of the raw honey. Fret not, even if you 'cook' your raw honey or can't get raw honey, it's still good!



Optional ideas:


The following are herbal suggestions that you can play with as you get more comfortable in making your own herbal remedies. Each tablespoon you add to your concoction requires you to also add 2 tablespoons of water.


1 Tablespoon Camu Camu powder (vitamin C)

2 Tablespoons Echinacea (boosts immune function; be careful of this one if you have autoimmune diseases as it can aggravate some of them)

2 tablespoons lemon balm (anti-viral properties)

3 tablespoons rose hips (vitamin c)

2 tablespoons powdered turmeric or 2-inch long piece of fresh turmeric root, diced finely (anti-inflammatory properties).



And finally. . .

Picky People Ideas:


We all have that someone in our life that is a picky eater, or perhaps they have a sensory processing disorder like my teenager, which has taken 15 years to partially overcome. My first suggestion is to try making this syrup into fun gummies. You can find awesome silicon candy molds on amazon so your gummies can be in fun shapes, or just use a jelly roll pan as you would for Jello Jigglers and cut out the size you want.


For gummies, it's going to be up to you to figure out how much gelatin you need, as it depends on how much liquid you managed to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze out of that mixture. For every cup of liquid you have after straining, you will need 3 tablespoons of gelatin (grass-fed would be best! bonus that it's healthy!), plus 3 more tablespoons to make up for the cup of honey you haven't added yet. Here's what your directions will look like for making gummies:


  1. Combine berries (and the optional herbs) with cold water in a pot and bring it to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat and allow the berries (and any optional herbs) to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

  3. Remove from the heat and let everything steep for 1 hour.

  4. Strain the berries and herbs through your strainer lined with the cloth or through your nut milk bag (it will stain, be warned). Be sure to squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Warning: it will still be hot!

  5. Add the amount of gelatin you will need based on how much liquid you managed to get out of the dregs and whisk slowly until it's well combined and no chunks remain.

  6. Discard the used herbs in the trash or your compost pile.

  7. Once the liquid has cooled to about 100 degrees, add in the honey and stir to incorporate. If it gets too cool it may set and you'll be stuck with a bowl-shaped, unsweetened gummy, so set a timer to check on it regularly.

  8. Pour into molds or onto your parchment paper-lined pan (you got that ready, right?).

  9. Set for 8 hours before cutting or removing from the molds.


Suggestion number two for the picky ones is to add it to fruit juices. The following are my top picks and reasons:

  • Pineapple juice, as it not only hides the flavor but pineapple also contains bromine, which is a natural cough suppressant.

  • Tart cherry juice, as it helps bring on sleep. Obviously only do this one at night or before nap time.

  • Orange juice, for the vitamin C content, which our bodies need to fight off illness.

  • Cranberry juice (not cocktail), for the vitamin C content. It's lower in vitamin C than orange juice but it's something else to try if you're having trouble.



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