Elderberry Syrup Mania

Elderberry Syrup Mania!

So of course I have to join in and see what it's all about.  And the hunt was on!

What I found out, was that these berries are very special.  They are like the secret remedy for colds and the flu!

There are a few types of elderberry plants, but the black elderberry is favored.  Because of its strong anti-viral properties, it a huge defender against colds and the flu.  Thus the reason for being so popular in fall.

Elderberries are also know for the following:

  • Immune System Booster
  • Improves vision
  • Fights infections including influenza, herpes, viral infections, bacterial infections
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Improves heart health
  • Fights coughs and colds
  • Protect against cell damage
  • Impedes yeast infections
  • Fights hay fever
  • Helps with asthma
  • Improves complexion
  • Improves eczema

As I read more and more articles, blogs, etc., I knew I had to get my hands on some elderberries.  Eventually I was able to locate fresh elderberries at the Local Roots Food Coop and purchased 3 lbs.  I wasn't able make the syrup right away, so I threw them in the freezer.

So last Saturday I finally had some time and pulled those elderberries out of the freezer.

Frozen Elderberries

Frozen Elderberries

I had found a simple recipe (found at the end of this blog) that looked good to me and one I wanted to try.  So into the pot went the berries and the heat was turned on.  I kept the temperature at about medium low heat so the berries wouldn't burn and stirred every so often.

Cooking Elderberries

Cooking Elderberries

Once the berries got soft, I tried to mash them to help bring out the juice.  Not sure if it helped or not.

I have to make a comment on the smell the elderberries made while cooking.  It was a sort of old berry smell I thought.  Not unpleasant, but certainly not sweet smelling.  When my daughter walked in from outside, she asked "What stinks?"  Ok, it wasn't that bad, but the odor was unique as I had never smelled it before and had expected something a little sweeter.

So once the berries had cooked long enough (I cooked them for about one hour), I put them in a strainer and let them sit for awhile to get out most of the juice. Then I hand squeezed the berries in cheesecloth to get out as much juice as I could.  By the way, that is excellent exercise for your hands.  Boy, were mine sore after just a few minutes!

This is a messy step in the process, so be prepared.

Straining the elderberries

Straining the elderberries

Once I had as much juice I could get from the berries, which ended up being 1 pint, I started on the syrup.

Elderberry juice

Elderberry juice

I have to stop here and say the honey I used is some of the best I've ever eaten.  I got it at a local Farmers Market from the vendor Ames Farm.  I had the Sweet Clover Honey and it was so good!  It is so nice to be able to buy and use local products.

The honey I used for my elderberry syrup.

The honey I used for my elderberry syrup.

This part went quick and the syrup was in a jar in no time.  And I had my first jar of Elderberry Syrup!  And it is tasty, better then any cough syrup I've purchased in the store.

My first homemade jar of Elderberry Syrup!

My first homemade jar of Elderberry Syrup!

With the berries that were left after removing the juice, I decided to see if they could be used for tea if dried.  I spread them out on parchment paper and then into the oven, which I set at 150 degrees F.  They took a number of hours to dry out completely.

Dried Elderberries

Dried Elderberries

To make the tea, I took about a Tbsp of dried elderberries, a tsp of dried mint leaves and a dried stevia leaf and steeped everything in about 8oz of hot water for about 10 minutes.  It wasn't too bad, a little weak, so next time I think I will add more mint leaves and elderberries.

Steeping my first try at an elderberry tea with mint leaves.

Steeping my first try at an elderberry tea with mint leaves.

Elderberry Syrup with Honey and Cinnamon Recipe

I found this simple recipe on Common Sense Homesteading.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart elderberry juice
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 sticks cinnamon

Directions

Sterilize three 16-ounce jars, keep hot.  Heat lids and rings in hot water, keep warm but not boiling.  Fill water bath canner and bring to boil.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot.  Heat and stir until all honey is dissolved.  Bring to boil and boil for ten minutes (this infuses the flavor of the spices into the syrup).   Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level).  Makes around 3 pints of syrup.  (You can adjust this recipe to make a smaller batch.)

Note: because of the honey, do not give to children under 1 year of age.