Each year as autumn approaches, I often find my friends and family asking me about the best herbal remedies to use during the coming cold winter months. The most common question I hear is, "What natural herb can I give my family to keep us healthy during sniffle season?" There is a great number of herbs geared toward winter wellness, but one of my favorites, for overall immune support is Elderberry.
There are many ways to enjoy the health benefits of Elderberry but one of the best loved memories of many of our childhoods is Elderberry Syrup.
Elderberry Health Benefits
- Elderberries are particularly rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanins which are responsible for their deep purple (almost black) coloring. These powerful antioxidants work to keep the immune system strong and resilient.
- These tiny berries are also believed to contain antiviral agents– compounds so potent they are thought to deactivate viruses. Viruses are unable to multiply on their own and need to get inside a healthy cell to do so. Elderberries have high concentrations of bioflavonoids which appear to deactivate viruses and render them unable to pierce the cell wall and replicate.
- The humble elderberry is perhaps most famously used for the treatment of colds and flu. There is much evidence for its effectiveness, with many double-blind, placebo controlled trials.
So Why Syrup?
There are many reasons why this amazing berry which can be used in so many forms is most often enjoyed as a syrup. One is the syrup is traditionally made with honey which acts as a natural preservative.
The other reason why most people choose Elderberry syrup? TASTE! The flavor of elderberries is really brought to life with a little sweetener. This is why elderberry syrup is often enjoyed on pancakes, ice cream and oatmeal.
Classic Elderberry Syrup Recipe
A simple elderberry syrup recipe made with fresh or dried elderberries, honey and herbs for an immune boosting and delicious syrup. Can be used medicinally or on homemade pancakes or waffles.
- 3 cups of water
- 1 cup fresh black elderberries (or 2/3 cups dried)
- 2 TBSP ginger (grated)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup raw honey
Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
Remove from heat and let cool until it is cool enough to be handled.
Mash the berries carefully using a potato masher or other utensil.
Pour through a strainer or jelly bag into a glass jar or bowl.
Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
When it is no longer hot, add the honey and stir well.
- When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a sterilized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
- Ta-da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.