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.

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DIY Anti-Bacterial Spray

DIYAntiBacterialSpray

I’ve written previously about my concern over the amount of chemicals we are exposed to. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we have the God-gifted ability to overcome a lot of different kinds of assaults on our systems. But, at some point, we wear down our immune system; we overload it (think Scotty, from Star Trek: “She canna take much more, Captain!”).

When we wear down our immune system, our adrenal system, our elimination system; and don’t take care to build it up, then we develop faults: little things start slipping through, we notice something’s a bit off, and we think, “Eh. Our bodies break down. I’ll get over it.”

But we’re not getting over things like we used to. It’s not necessarily because we get old. Younger people are becoming afflicted with ailments that used to be relegated only to the elderly. Autoimmune system disorders are rampant. Mental illness is rampant. Cancers, infections, and other life-taking or life-changing diseases are sucking the abundant life out of us.

We don’t have to expose ourselves to the amount of artificial and chemical substances that we often do. Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, deodorants, hair styling products, shower soaps and gels, toothpastes, eye drops, cleaning products, laundry cleaners and fresheners, bug sprays, sunscreens, make-up, air sprays, scented candles, and perfumes all contain an alarming number and alarming types of chemicals that our bodies have to fight against.

I’m tellin’ ya: THEY’RE NOT ALL GOOD FOR YOU! Don’t believe the advertising.

If you believe any of the following about artificial products, please consider getting over it:

  • “I love the smell of it on my hair / skin.”
  • “My skin feels so soft when I use it.”
  • “My hair looks so good when I use this.”
  • “This is the only product that gives me the look I want.”
  • “My clothes smell so fresh!”
  • “Everyone else uses stuff like this.”
  • “It says it’s good for me.”
  • “I can’t have my home smelling stale like this; I have to use it.”
  • “I want people around me to enjoy this scent as much as I do. I want them to know this is ME.”

Since developing conditions, myself, I have done a lot of reading. Much of it has been on the Internet. I know, I know: Who can believe what you read on the Internet?? But I have found several reputable people who spread the good word(s) about living cleaner, healthier lives:

Most of these knowledgeable, helpful people offer an abundance of free advice, remedies, and recipes.  I subscribe to e-newsletters from them, and get all kinds of helpful information. (Most also offer their tips on Facebook pages.) Just to highlight one, here is a page-ful of DIY, healthy, cleaning products: https://naturallivingfamily.com/category/cleaning/

And here is a recipe I use (one I made from a conglomeration of other recipes I read) for an anti-bacterial spray. Well, that’s the name for it, anyway, but it has many other uses.

Use a glass spray bottle. This recipe has essential oils, and the oils eat through plastic.

Prepare a 50/50 mix of witch hazel and vodka, enough so that it almost fills your spray bottle.

Into the bottle, put clove, peppermint, and orange essential oils.

You will need to shake the bottle every time you use it.

  • 2-ounce glass spray bottle
  • ¾ ounce vodka
  • ¾ 1 ounce witch hazel (or water)
  • 20 drops clove essential oil
  • 25 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 25 drops orange essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sunflower lecithin (optional: this is an emulsifier; if you add it, you don’t have to shake it so much every time)

Directions: Add all ingredients to the spray bottle. Shake well before and during use. This lasts around 6 months at room temperature.

This is an antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal spray. It’s great for when someone in the house is sick – spray it on everything* (but not on skin – too concentrated).

I use this for the normal ew-germs-kill-it spots, like door handles, toilet, etc. I also spray it on our pillow cases in the morning when I want to freshen them up, along with any bedding.

I use this, too, anywhere I don’t want spiders coming in (clove and peppermint, especially, are good spider repellants).

Good for kitchen counters, wonky-smelling dishcloths (or face cloths in the bathroom).

Good air freshener; it will neutralize odors. This smells great, but make another bottle if you don’t like it, and use other essential oils (like geranium, ylang ylang, Frankincense, or other scents you like). Whatever oils you use for an air freshener will have healing properties, and you can substitute them in the same recipe with the vodka and witch hazel.

Spray on a cloth to wipe computer keyboards, light switch plates.

Spray on clothing to freshen up.*

*CAUTION: Do not spray on wood surfaces. I sprayed this onto my clothing that I hadn’t worn for a while (just kinda musty), while they were in the drawer. The ingredients break down any lacquer or finish on the wood. My clothing smelled like old lacquer.

Also CAUTION: Do not spray onto skin. The essential oils are too concentrated in this mixture, and will irritate skin. That said, if you get some on you while using it, you don’t have to freak out. Don’t spray directly onto skin. If you get quite a bit on you, wipe or rinse it off.

Healthy Immune System Remedies

In this looooong winter season, sniffles, sore throats, coughs, and achy bodies are running rampant. Rather than going to the store or the doctor for help, I prefer natural treatments. Prevention and maintenance are my key focus.

To keep my immune system in good working order, I regularly do the following:

  • Take large doses of Vitamin C. Good, nutritious food is the best source of Vitamin C. But, you can buy any cheap vitamins you get your hands on. By “large doses,” I mean (for myself) 12,000 – 15,000 mg per day. I buy supplements in 1,000 mg per tablet, and take 4 of them first thing in the morning, and again last thing at night. I pop a few more throughout the day. If I feel anything coming on, I take up to 10,000 more in a day. Vitamin C is not toxic, you can’t take enough to harm you. If your body doesn’t need that much, it will dispense of it through your elimination system. (Hint: You will see references to “bowel tolerance” in reading about it, meaning that, if you take too much, your stools will start getting loose. Just cut back a bit until your bowels are more normal. This is a great reference standard for kids.)
  • Use essential oils. I diffuse essential oils throughout the house; I also make remedies for inhalers, creams, serums, sanitizing sprays, and salves using various blends. If you visit such sites hosted by these, you will find many recipes using essential oils for a wide range of uses, such as salves, serums, shampoos, remedies, and emotional health blends: Dr. Eric Zelinski, Dr. Josh Axe, Wardee Harmon at Traditional Cooking School, and Chris at Joybilee Farm. Please follow guidelines for using essential oils, and test each one for any reactions before going full-on. Here is a short list of essential oils that have research-backed effectiveness:
    • Antivirals: Basil, bergamot, cassia, cinnamon bark, clove, cumin, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, helichrysum, myrrh, oregano, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, tea tree, thyme
    • Antibacterials: Basil, bergamot, cassia, cedarwood, cinnamon bark, citronella, clove, dill, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, rosemary, spikenard, tea tree
    • Antifungal: Cassia, cinnamon bark, citronella, clary sage, eucalyptus, fir, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, rosewood, sage, spikenard, thyme
  • Rebounding: A quick search on the Internet for “rebounding” results in several good sources of information on the health benefits to the lymph system, which supports the immune system. I have a mini trampoline (20 minutes in the evenings), a treadmill (20 minutes mornings), and a bouncy exercise ball (10 or 20 minutes on days I don’t feel like doing the tramp or treadmill). If you don’t already, start paying attention to your lymph nodes. The ones I feel the most are under my arms and into my chest, sometimes the ones in my neck. Do an Internet search for a graphic of the lymph system to find where they are. When I’m coming down with something, my lymph nodes start to ache a bit. This is a good time to rebound. After I rebound, I can feel a difference in my nodes. Also, I regularly massage essential oils (diluted with jojoba or other oil) into my skin on areas where my lymph nodes are. (Note: for fastest absorption into the body, rub remedies into your abdomen area.)
  • Eat nutritious foods. Procure as much fresh, real food as possible: these are the foods that need little or no labeling, because they are what they are: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, fish, poultry. I have read enough to know that organic and non-GMO are important. Make as much of your food from scratch as possible, so you know that you have the best of ingredients. If you do purchase other products, read the ingredients carefully, and choose the least-processed foods available. (Note: Sugar is not nutritious, neither is processed wheat flour.)
  • Drink plenty of pure water. Here is another “beware:” tap water ain’t so good for you. I don’t promote bottled water, either (the contents nor the plastic waste). If you know someone with a good well, see if you can arrange to get your drinking and cooking water there. Use a good filter for your tap water.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Once you start eating well, you will be surprised at how much better you sleep. Exercise also helps with sleep. Exercising in the early evening, a few hours before bedtime, is a good way to release stress and generate some dopamine. Sleep is important to the immune system because it is during this time that the body restores, eliminates toxins, maintains and repairs cells, and carries out several essential tasks related to your health.
  • Nurture healthy relationships. Give thought to your family, friend, and associate circles. Nurture close relationships with those who can join in a healthy dynamic.
  • Give your life, your health, your relationships to God. He will take care of you. As you look to Him, call upon Him, depend on Him, He will provide for you in His exceptional, loving way.

Elderberry is a great way to boost your immune system. Following is a recipe for elderberry gummies from a trusted source, Wardee Harmon at Traditional Cooking School. I have seen other recipes for elderberry syrup that include grated ginger, cinnamon sticks, and even garlic cloves boiled with the berries. To make this a syrup, and not gummies, do not add the gelatin.

Here is Wardee’s recipe, taken directly from her site https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/immune-boosting-homemade-elderberry-gummies-only-4-ingredients/ :

Immune-Boosting Homemade Elderberry Gummies

HealthyImmuneSystemRemedies

Who else will do almost anything to naturally boost your kids’ immune systems during flu season?! After learning how to make elderberry syrup and tinctures for their immune-boosting benefits, I started making homemade elderberry gummies too, and now my kids snack on them throughout the fall and winter to stay healthy. Learn how to make this easy DIY supplement for kids and adults today!

Course Household & Health, Snack

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 50 minutes

Setting Time 3 hours

Total Time 1 hour

Author Annie Bernauer

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the elderberries and water in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and allow the fruit to simmer in the water for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Mash the elderberries to help release the juices into the water.
  4. After 45 minutes, strain the elderberries from the juice with a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.
  5. Bundle up the elderberries in the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the elderberry juice.
  6. Return the elderberry juice to the saucepan on the stove over low heat. Do not boil the elderberry juice.
  7. Whisk in the honey.
  8. Slowly pour in the gelatin while briskly whisking the juice so the gelatin doesn’t clump.
  9. Whisk until the gelatin dissolves.
  10. Remove the saucepan from heat and pour the liquid into silicone molds or a glass baking dish. If using a silicone mold, place the mold on a cookie sheet before filling it with the elderberry mixture. Speaking from experience, if you pick up a flimsy silicone mold without the tray underneath, it will spill and make a big mess!
  11. Refrigerate for several hours or until set.
  12. Elderberry gummies should last up to 1 week in the refrigerator, although at our house they never last that long!

Recipe Notes

*Elderberries are bitter in their natural state so this recipe has raw honey added as a natural sweetener. *This recipe is just the right amount to fill one of my silicone molds. The recipe can be doubled to make a larger batch.