It is that time of year again. Flu season is upon us. Boo!
We’ve been fortunate to avoid illness so far this year, and I think that our homemade elderberry syrup has been a huge help. Over this past week, I’ve had several friends say that they want to make elderberry syrup, but they aren’t sure where to start. I thought I’d share how I make mine, plus some tips that I’ve learned along the way. 🙂
Elderberry syrup is such a great way to support your immune system. You can use it to prevent or help fight off colds and flus. Nutritionally, it packs a punch, containing vitamins A, B, and C, plus lots of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium and phosphorus. You might’ve seen the study going around that shows how well elderberry reduces flu symptoms. Recent studies have also shown that elderberry supplementation can cut the duration of flu symptoms by half.
The process of making elderberry syrup is very easy. You are going to make a decoction out of the elderberries, strain, add honey, and you’re done!
Now, for the details:
First, you will obviously need elderberries. If you are fortunate enough to have an elderberry shrub/tree nearby, then you can use fresh ones. If you don’t have fresh elderberries, I am a huge fan of Mountain Rose Herbs. Their products are high-quality and fresh, which is so important. You don’t need much to make a batch, and Mountain Rose Herbs allows you to order small amounts — starting at just 4oz.
Once you have your elderberries, you’ll want to make a decoction. A decoction is much like a strong tea that you then simmer to reduce the total amount of liquid. To make the elderberry decoction, combine 1 cup of fresh or 1/2 cup of dried elderberries with 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring this to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and then simmer for 30 minutes. At this point, your decoction is done! Woohoo!
Next, smash the berries and strain the mixture. Don’t forget to compost the leftover berry mush. 🙂
Finally, allow the liquid to cool and add 1 cup of honey (raw and local, if possible). Bottle it up in a glass jar, and you’re done!
Your elderberry syrup will last 2-3 months in the fridge. Take 1 tablespoon daily to help keep illness away (or 1 tsp for kids.) If you are already sick, you can take 1 teaspoon every 2-3 hours. (And don’t forget that babies can’t have honey until they’re a year old.)
When I make my initial decoction, I like to add a stick of cinnamon (which is strained out when I strain the berry mush.) You could also add whole cloves or fresh, organic ginger. My kids love the taste of the cinnamon with the berries. As always, don’t feed honey to young children.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
1/2 cup dried or 1 cup fresh elderberries
3 cups water
1 cup honey (raw and local, if possible)
Optional: cinnamon stick, cloves, or ginger
Bring the elderberries, water, and optional spices to a gentle boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, until liquid is reduced by about half. Smash the berries and strain the liquid into a glass jar. Once the liquid cools, add the honey and store refrigerated for 2-3 months.