It’s cold and flu season again! Fortunately, our household doesn’t get too many bugs, but I do like to keep the medicine chest well stocked for when the snot starts flying. My favorite go-to is DIY Elderberry Syrup to help ease and reduce cold and flu symptoms. Studies also show this tasty berry can shorten the duration of colds and flu when administered at the onset of symptoms, helping those little ones suffer a little less—a winner in my book!
As an added bonus, it’s easy to make, tastes yummy, and uses nothing but wholesome ingredients full of antimicrobial and immunity boosting properties. And the best part is, this syrup not only stays good in the frig for several months, but whatever is left over at the end of cold season quickly turns into a tasty pancake syrup for the kids.
When gathering ingredients, it’s best to use organic items only to produce to the highest quality syrup possible. However, if conventional ingredients are what you have on hand, this syrup will still work very well. The important thing to remember with herbal remedies is to use the highest quality and freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. As for the honey, only use raw honey—no exceptions on that one as conventional honey has no health benefits remaining in the final product.
DIY Elderberry Syrup
Adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs Elderberry Syrup recipe
Makes about one quart
4 cups cold water
2 cups dried or fresh elderberries
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
Appx. 1-2 cups raw honey
Step 1: If using fresh elderberries, make sure the berries are fully ripe and remove all stems. Under ripe berries and stems can cause severe stomach upset and nausea. Combine berries, cinnamon sticks, and ginger root in cold water. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes or until mixture is reduced by about half.
Step 2: Remove from heat. While still hot, mash berries thoroughly with a potato masher.
Step 3: Strain berry mixture through a moistened cheesecloth. Be sure to get all the juicy goodness out of the mixture by squeezing the bag as hard as possible. I like to get my hubby to do the squeezing—those berries are just too precious to let any go to waste!
Step 4: Measure remaining liquid and toss the pulp to the chickens or to the compost. In a small saucepan, combine berry juice and an equal measure of honey (or a little more if you want it extra sweet). Gently heat honey and juice only until honey is melted as overheating will diminish the honey’s health benefits. Often, if I’m working quickly enough, I don’t even need to reheat the mixture. The heat of the berry juice is usually sufficient for melting the honey.
Step 5: Store syrup in a clean glass jar in the frig for up to several months. At the onset of symptoms provide 1-3 teaspoons to children over the age of 2 every 4 hours. Adults are lucky and get 1-2 tablespoons every 4 hours. Or, if you feel really sick, just pour some syrup over pancakes or on a biscuit as often as you feel necessary. I won’t tell anyone!