Homemade Elderberry Syrup
I love to use this homemade elderberry syrup along with our favourite essential oils when we are struck down with a cold, flu or cough-especially during the winter months!
A few years ago I was looking for a natural alternative to support the kids’ immune system and reduce the duration and severity of their colds. I found this chemist brand of (mostly natural) elderberry syrup- the girls thought it tasted like lollies (so they asked for it ALL the time) and it did seem to help them to kick the sickness quicker. The problem was that it was expensive!
I found out that it was possible to make your own elderberry syrup from dried elderberries. I had complete control over what I added in, the amount of sweetener I used and how many “extras” I snuck into the kids’ daily dose. We have been using this recipe (adding to and changing it) for two winters now and it is a firm favourite in our winter warrior routine as a cough suppressant and general immunity booster.
What does research say about elderberries?
Elderberries have fantastic anti-viral and antioxidant properties, which have been used by ancient Greeks and Egyptians. They are also a rich source of vitamins A and C, and bioflavonoids, which all have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Research has shown the ability of elderberries and their syrup to treat and reduce symptoms of upper respiratory conditions like bronchitis. Elderberry treats upper respiratory conditions through its immunomodulatory properties, which treat viral infections of the respiratory tract and relieve symptoms like nasal congestion and coughing. It may alleviate flu symptoms like fever, sore throat, fatigue, chills, and muscle aches if taken within the first forty-eight hours of having the flu. According to the Journal of International Medical Research, it also shortens the length of influenza by about three to four days!
They are a natural detoxifier, stimulating circulation and cleansing of the body which in turn helps to increase overall energy. It can also soothe nerves, promote sleep and help you to relax. In addition to providing respiratory relief and boosting immunity, the elderberry syrup can soothe a sore throat fast.
You will need:
2/3 cup of organic dried elderberries
4 cups of filtered water
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger grated (or ground spice)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
½ teaspoon of clove powder
½ cup of raw honey (or more depending how sweet you like it)
Natural vitamin c powder (wild C)
Superfeast blends-chaga, mason’s mushrooms or He shou wu
Food grade essential oil (for example wild orange, cinnamon, manuka or lemon)
(Remember pure essential oils are potent. I wouldn’t use any more than 4 drops for this recipe total)
What you do:
Add filtered water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and clove to a saucepan with a lid (NOT honey).
Bring mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally, then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (You want the liquid to have reduced by almost half. This is what makes it 'syrupy')
I then put on the lid and allow it to cool until it can be handled.
Mash the elderberries with the back of a spoon to break them down, then strain mixture with a fine strainer or cheesecloth. (compost the berry leftovers from strainer).
Stir through the honey and any optional extras at this point.
Pour elderberry syrup into a glass jar (or a few jars to store/freeze)
Our family take this syrup every second day leading up to and during winter, then increase to 3 times a day when we notice symptoms of illness starting. The girls take 1 teaspoon as a dose (2 and 5 year olds), the adults take 1 tablespoon.
** There is no standard dose of elderberry syrup. Some studies have shown that ½ teaspoon is perfect, while others claim the body needs more. Please do your own research to find out what is best for your family.
** Note this is not suitable for children under the age of 1 because of the raw honey, essential oils and possible high level of added extras.
* When I make a batch of elderberry syrup we always reserve a bit to use in making our homemade gummies. The kids love them! (see our recipe for making healthy gummies under ‘food recipes’)
* We add a lot of cinnamon because my girls love the taste and it is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties too.
* If you are using spices make sure that they are as fresh as possible. The packet of clove powder that has sat on the supermarket shelf for months and then in the back of your cupboard has lost a lot of it’s beneficial properties.
* It is important that you add your optional extras at the same time as the honey, once it has cooled, so the heat does not destroy their properties.
* In winter I usually make a double batch and store it in the freezer in smaller containers- that way I can take out enough for 3-6 days at a time and it is always at the freshest!
* You can store it in the fridge for up to 2 months if needed. The honey will act as a natural preservative.
* We use these strained berries once more to brew a hot tea or let them sit in soda/mineral water for a few minutes to release the last of their juices. Then they're off to the compost bin!
* I use the syrup 3-4 times daily at the first signs of illness to shorten the duration and reduce severity of symptoms.