Elderberries are a potent little autumn berries that can knock any winter sniffle off it’s miserable feet. So it’s no coincidence that they are ripe and ready for the picking just as the season starts to change and the flu season is sneaking up on us.
Simmered down into a rich and complex sweet syrup, the humble elderberry turns into an incredibly effective flu-fighting antidote that even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, swore by. Loaded with immune-boosting goodness, elderberries have more powerful antioxidants than those of blueberries and cranberries, contain more vitamin C than tomatoes or oranges and are a great source of Vitamin A and B. They also contain more protein of blueberries and are a good source of iron and calcium. This unassuming wild berry packs a mighty healthy punch.
So instead of offering your arm up for a jab of mercury or popping a concoction of corporate chemicals, why not make your own delicious natural flu remedy and keep your family free of any pesky winter bugs.
(makes approx 2 cups)
1 cup elderberries (fresh) or 1/2 cup elderberries (dried)
2 cups filtered water
1 cup local, raw, unfiltered honey
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Place the berries in a pot, add water and bring mixture to the boil. Add the thyme, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced by about half.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, pressing on the solids to release as much of the liquids as possible. Discard the solids in your food waste bin. Allow the juice to cool down from hot to warm. When the juice is still quite warm, add the raw honey and stir to combine.
Transfer to a sterilised bottle or jar and pop it into the fridge.
HOW TO TAKE
Take once a day as a preventative: 1 tablespoon for adults; 1 teaspoon for older kids; 1/2 teaspoon for toddlers. Do not give to infants under 1. Take 2-3 doses per day when sick.
Store your finished elderberry syrup in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Elderberry syrup is lovely poured on top of ice creams and pancakes. It also makes a delicious sauce for wild meat.
Fresh elderberries should NOT be consumed raw, as they are slightly poisonous, so make sure the berries are cooked with water first. Do NOT use the syrup if you are, or may possibly, be pregnant. Always discuss with a health care provider before giving the homemade elderberry syrup to children, and do NOT give to infants under 1.
PHOTO | Neil White