Healthy Living

Elderberries to the Rescue!


The season of runny noses, sore throats and terrible coughs is upon us, and sometimes it feels like there’s no relief in sight. Over-the-counter drugs can often make you feel woozy and weird with their side effects, and they’re pricey! When I’m feeling under the weather, I like to turn to natural remedies when ever I can. I know what all of the ingredients are, I can control their freshness and quality, and I can make them economically in a short amount of time. Elderberry syrup is one that I’ve added to my repertoire this year. And while it’s not an instant cure-all magic bullet (is there such a thing?) it certainly does help. Elderberries are high in vitamin C and contain antioxidants, so that little boost will certainly be beneficial to you when you’re feeling under the weather. Elderberry syrup is available commercially, but it’s easy to make at home, so why not give it a try? You’ll need the following ingredients (this recipe is adapted by one from Wellness Mama) –

2/3 cup dried elderberries

3 1/2 cups water

 2 tablespoons candied ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 cup honey

Step 1 – Put the elderberries, candied ginger, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves into a cheesecloth bag, and place the bag into the water in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook it until the liquid reduces by half, stirring occasionally. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Don’t walk away – you don’t want the liquid to reduce too much – you should have about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups when it’s ready.

Step 2 – Discard the cheesecloth bag of ingredients and let the liquid cool. Once cool, stir in the honey. You should now have a nice syrupy consistency. Decant it into a glass bottle – I like to recycle screw-top wine bottles – and store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of months if refrigerated.

To use, a tablespoon per day for adults can be taken as a preventative measure, or you can take it up to three times per day if you’re actively sick. The flavor is a spicy, sweet fruit mix – almost reminiscent of grapes. Not bad at all, though it is a strong taste.

It’s also important to know that most varieties of raw elderberries and all of the stems and leaves are poisonous. Never eat the stems and leaves, and always make sure you cook elderberries before consuming them. It’s advisable to consult a trained herbalist or your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about home remedies. That being said, this is certainly a remedy that I feel is safe, effective, and that I use with myself and my family – hopefully you give it a try and see the same benefits!