Recipe Friday: Elderberry Syrup

Welcome to my second Recipe Friday. (If you missed the first one, click here.)

It’s the season for prevention!

All year long is a good time to build up your immune system. (See my immune system pointers in this blog – along with Wardee’s Elderberry Gummies; some cold and flu remedies here; and a recipe for Vitamin C chews here.) But autumn is a good time to start your remedy-making, to make sure you’ve got medicinal therapies ready, and to give you and your family a boost to prepare for cold season.

Elderberry Syrup is one of the best-known remedies, and for good reason. Elderberries prevent viruses from replicating in the body, and so shorten the duration and severity of a cold or flu bug.

If you grow your own elderberry bushes, high five! You have an organic, natural, and accessible treatment available to you. [Note: Besides the berries, the elder flowers are also beneficial. Be sure to harvest no more than 1/5 of the flowers on any bush, to make sure you have enough berries in the fall.]

If you don’t have elder bushes, try local farmers’ markets. A third option is to buy dried elderberries at a health food store or online (vitacost.com or amazon.com are good sources). Make sure they are organic.

Ideas for using elderberries:

  • Take a dose of 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup as soon as you notice a cold coming on; you can take it every two hours. Because this is food, you can take it as often as needed before or during a cold or flu.
  • Add some elderberry syrup to your daily drinking water.
  • Boil elderberries (fresh or dried) into a tea with other herbs, and sip.
  • Make elderberry gummies by adding unflavored (organic) gelatin. Pour into candy molds, or into a pan and then cut into dosage sizes. Organic gelatin is beneficial to your overall health and to your gut.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • 3 cups of filtered water
  • 1 cup of raw local honey (or less, to taste)
  • Optional ingredients:
    • ½ cup dried yarrow leaves and flowers (Yarrow makes you sweat, and tricks your body into fighting the virus, even before it takes hold. It’s also beneficial for the lungs.)
    • ½ cup dried hawthorn berries (very high in Vitamin C)
    • Juice from a 2-inch piece of ginger root (juice it by pressing through a garlic press)
    • Orange or lemon peel
    • Cinnamon stick

ElderberrySyrup

Instructions

  • Simmer the elderberries and filtered water together in a covered pan for 30 minutes. (If you add more ingredients, such as the yarrow and hawthorn berries, add more water, 1 cup for every half cup of extra ingredient.)
  • Mash the elderberries (and optional other ingredients) with a potato masher (remove a cinnamon stick before mashing).
  • Strain the elderberries from the juice:
    • Pour through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, then bundle up the elderberries in the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the elderberry juice.
    • Or use a potato ricer
    • ElderberrySyrupTools
  • Simmer the juice, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, to let it concentrate.
  • Allow the juice to cool until it’s just warm-hot.
  • Add the raw honey and stir thoroughly to incorporate the honey. Do not heat again.
  • (If making gummies, add ¼ cup gelatin for every 2 cups of liquid. Whisk in carefully so it doesn’t clump.)
  • If using, add the ginger juice.
  • [If making gummies, pour into molds or glass pan.]
  • Allow the syrup to cool.

Store in an airtight glass jar (i.e., mason jar) in the refrigerator.

Cold and Flu Remedies

ColdAndFluRemedies

I was immensely blessed to buy an Herbs and Essential Oils Ultimate Bundle a few years ago, which included online classes from various instructors. One of the most helpful of these was the Joybilee Farms “Joybilee Academy DIY Herbal Apothecary.” She has a website here: https://joybileefarm.com/ and I highly recommend anything she offers. I am on her e-mail list and her facebook page.

Colds and flu abound this time of year, and I paste, following, information directly from her course notebook concerning the different stages and different needs; along with recipes for teas. FYI, decoction is when you boil the ingredients, infusion is when you steep the ingredients (like making tea).

My first choice (other than growing my own or buying at a local store) for gathering ingredients is with VitaCost: https://www.vitacost.com/

My second choice is Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/

Other great sites include https://www.planttherapy.com , https://www.mountainroseherbs.com , https://www.frontiercoop.com , https://www.starwest-botanicals.com , and https://www.bulkapothecary.com .

Joybilee Farms Information:

The Five Stages of a Cold

Colds and flu seem to begin with those achy muscles, sometimes sneezing, or sore throat. Often these maladies can be headed off with some judicial use of herbal remedies like vitamin C, elderberry syrup, fire cider, or other common immune boosters. These can be taken hourly at the first sign of a cold or flu. Often that is all you need to overcome the virus. This lesson is about what to do when the immune system is weak, and the body succumbs.

At the point where taking elderberry or fire cider begins to make you feel worse instead of better, try these remedies.

Stage 1 Rest

At the first sign of a cold or flu the most important action is rest. Take the day off. Crawl into bed. Sleep. Think of a cold or the flu as a warning flag that you need more rest. Take antimicrobial mixtures like fire cider, vitamin C, and olive leaf tincture every hour.

Herbs to Support the body at the first sign of a cold or flu

Antimicrobial herbs – Fire Cider, oil of oregano, olive leaf tincture, garlic, onions, ginger, eucalyptus, peppermint,

Immune boosting herbs – echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, olive leaf, peppermint

Tea or hot infusions are the best ways to take herbs for a cold or flu. The fluids help with hydration and elimination. The moist heat helps with sinus congestion and sore throat.

Stage 2: The Hot/Dry Cold

In the second stage of a cold or flu, where there are aches and pains, chills and fever, sore throat, swollen glands, or plugged nose, cooling and moistening herbs are needed. At this stage elderberries and elderflowers help support the immune system. Elderberry prevents viruses from replicating in the body, and if used regularly at this stage of the cold, there is still the hope that the body will overcome the virus.

Try this herbal infusion to help when you are hot and dry.

Yield: 4 cups of herbal infusion

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon elderflowers (cool and slightly dry, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, diaphoretic)

1 teaspoon elderberries (cool and slightly dry, immune stimulant)

1 teaspoon mullein leaf (cool and moist, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, demulcent)

1 teaspoon red clover flowers (cool and moist, lymphatic)

½ teaspoon peppermint leaf (cool and dry, antimicrobial, antiviral, diaphoretic)

Directions:

Combine the herbs in the mesh tea strainer of a 27 ounce cast iron tea pot or tetsubin. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drink liberally. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal infusion.

Stage 3: The Hot/Moist Cold

In the third stage of a cold or flu the person feels feverish and damp. The nose is running. The cough is wet and productive. The mucus is profuse. There is a need for herbs that are cooling, drying, and toning.

Try this herbal infusion to help when you are hot and damp.

Yield: 4 cups of herbal infusion

Ingredients

1 teaspoon peppermint (cool and dry, diaphoretic, antiviral/antimicrobial)

1 teaspoon elderberry (cool and dry, immune stimulant)

1 teaspoon yarrow (cool and dry, diaphoretic, antiviral/microbial, anti-catarrhal)

½ teaspoon mullein leaf (cool and moist, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, demulcent)

½ teaspoon calendula (cool and dry, antimicrobial, lymphatic)

Directions:

Combine the herbs in the mesh tea strainer of a 27 ounce cast iron tea pot or tetsubin. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drink liberally. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal infusion. Drink this freely.

Stage 4 The Cold/Dry Cold

Yield: 4 cups

This herbal decoction will warm up the circulation and ease the dry, hacking cough. Since this herbal blend is made up of roots, it should be made as a decoction rather than an infusion.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon elecampane (warm and moist, diaphoretic, antimicrobial)

1 teaspoon echinacea root (cool and dry, immune stimulant, anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial, lymphatic)

½ teaspoon licorice (neutral and moist, expectorant, demulcent)

¼ teaspoon ginger powder (hot and dry, diaphoretic, antimicrobial)

Directions:

Simmer roots in 4 cups of boiling water for 20 minutes. Keep the pot covered. Strain and drink hot. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal decoction.

Stage 5: The Cold/Moist Cold

This is the stage of cold where the fever is broken but there is lingering sinus issues, sneezing, coughing, and mucus. At this stage warming foods like chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger, and raw garlic help warm up the sinuses and dry up mucus. This is a good time to eat curry and Mexican food. Bitter, drying herbs make the best infusions to help expectorate mucus and calm the lingering cough.

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:

½ teaspoon thyme (warm and dry, diaphoretic, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial)

½ teaspoon sage (warm and dry, diaphoretic, antimicrobial, anti-catarrhal)

½ teaspoon calendula (cool and dry, antimicrobial, lymphatic)

½ teaspoon elderberry (cool and dry, immune stimulant)

A pinch cayenne (warm and dry, diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial)

Directions:

Combine the herbs in the mesh tea strainer of a 27 ounce cast iron tea pot or tetsubin. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drink liberally. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal infusion. Drink this freely.