Autumn, and the scent of simmering Elderberries in the apothecary.
Carefully picked when ripe, gently removed from their stems, and placed in filtered water, they are decocted ever so slowly. With each passing hour, the simmering berries deepen in color, sharpen in scent. The syrup thickens.
Dried berries can be soaked overnight in boiling water (see recipe below). Fresh or dried, these tiny dark Elderberries from Sambucus nigra trees (black elderberries) have provided nourshiment and immune support for human beings throughout the winter, throughtout the ages.
Traditionally, these are prepared in the autumn when the berries are ripe, and consumed in the cold months of the year to help prevent colds and flu.
More and more people are becoming familiar with elderberries as immune support for our bodies during the cold and flu season. Interest has grown to the point that research was done in 2009 which demonstrated the effectiveness of elder berry extract in inhibiting H1N1 flu infection. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19682714/
It’s always interesting when scientific research confirms age old tradtions
Elderberries grow abundantly in North America, and are easy to find in shops and online whereever bulk herbs are sold. Chances are you can find elderberry syrups or elixirs made by herbalists who attend your local farmer’s markets.
But if you would like to make your own, here is a simple recipe. it’s time consuming, but it isn’t difficult to make.
The syrup is tradtionally made with honey-local raw being the best. But if you intend to give it to children who are young (under 2 years of age), it’s best to make with gylcerine instead as raw honey. Honey can cause intestinal problems in infants and young children.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
For Dried Berries
1 C. dried black elderberries
2 C. boiling water
1 C. raw honey or glycerine
Place the elderberries in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let them sit for 4-6
hours or overnight.
Press the berries through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Pour the juice into a saucepan and place over very low heat. Reduce the juice until it is 1 cup.
Stir frequently. This may take a couple of hours.
Once the juice is reduced to 1 cup, add in 1 cup of honey or glycerine. You can sweeten more or less according to your taste. Pass the juice through several layers of cheesecloth to remove skins, and pour into a bottle or jar with a tight seal. Keep refrigerated. Shelf life is close to a year if refrigerated. You can serve the syrup over pancakes, or put in hot water for a tea. It is said that taking a teaspoon of the syrup each day helps to prevent colds and flu.
Syrup with Fresh Berries
2 cups fresh berries
Water for simmering
Honey or glycerine
Wash and stem the berries. Place in a saucepan and barely cover with water. Simmer until the berries are soft and mushy. Press the berries through a sieve to remove the seeds. Pour the juice back into a saucepan and place over very low heat. Reduce the juice by half. Stir frequently. This may take a couple of hours. Once the juice is reduced to half of its original amount, add in 1 cup of honey or glycerine. You can sweeten more or less according to your taste. Pass the juice through several layers of cheesecloth to remove skins, and pour into a bottle or jar with a tight seal. Keep refrigerated. Shelf life is close to a year if refrigerated.
Article and recipes by Kim Orr
Arranged by Beth Lowe