Elderberries are ripe right now, and when they come in I absolutely love making a big batch of syrup to keep on hand. It is an easy and fun plant both to harvest and to make medicine with. Elderberries have been an important herb in folk medicine and were one of the sacred trees revered by the druids. They are most renowned for their immune boosting and flu/fever/cold fighting abilities. Other benefits include its high antioxidant activity to lower cholesterol, improve vision, heart health, respiratory health, tonsillitis, and bacterial and viral infections. Talk about a superfood!
What I most appreciate about elderberry medicine is that it works on the immune system to prevent illness, and also has the ability to shorten an illness once it's set in (I find most immune herbs work really well for preventing, but kinda leave you hanging if you don't start on them in time and get sick). As we approach Fall, I always get nervous about cold/flu season, and prefer to prevent & treat it naturally. Fortunately, nature is perfect and gives us ripe elderberries now to prepare us for the cold/immune-challenging months to come!
This syrup will keep for months in the fridge. I made a gallon so I'd have plenty for my friends and family and my own household. If you're using fresh berries, you use a ratio of 1:1 water to berries, and 2:1 water to dried berries (dried elderberries are available here). As always, only forage fresh berries if you are 100% sure you've correctly identified the plant--safety first! Also, my friend Bear gave me the best tip ever for separating the ripe berries from the stem: Simply freeze the berries when you get them home, and the frozen berries will fall right off the stem with zero effort! SO GENIUS! Thanks, Bear!
8 cups water
8 cups fresh elderberries
1 cup elderflowers (I like to harvest some flowering tops when I harvest my berries, or you could also order these online dried)
4 lemons, sliced
1 ounce reishi*
1 ounce schizandra*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Add all ingredients except the honey in a large pot, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer the mixture for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool to warm, strain, and stir in the raw honey to taste (expect to use anywhere from 1-3 cups honey). Bottle it in a sterile jar with a tight fitting lid, and store in the fridge. I like to take a shot in water everyday as an immune supporting elixir, but it is also delicious in mocktails, iced tea, smoothies, cocktails, and topping a glass of cava/champagne with.
*I only added these 2 herbs as extra immune boosting support. They are totally optional, and sometimes less is more, ya know what I mean? Keep it simple, especially if it's your first time making it.
**It is important to use raw honey to preserve the shelf life of the syrup, and you do get added benefits form the raw honey. If you are vegan, substitute with your fave sweetener, and maybe start with a smaller batch recipe to experiment with the shelf life.
Let me know how yours turns out!