Photo: Diana Bauman
How Sweet It Is
It’s the season of elderberries. Clusters of berries that grow heavily on bushes that can reach up to 10 feet tall.
Many people grow these bushes at home while others forage for the berries in the wild.
If you do try your hand at foraging for these berries, make sure you harvest ripened black berries. There is an imposter out there with red berries which are quite poisonous.
These berries are not as sweet as raspberries or blueberries, however they share a mild sort of sweetness similar to that of wild mulberries or marionberries.
Help The Medicine Go Down
The elderberry can be used in many ways. Baked in pies, crumbles and tarts or frozen and mixed in sorbets, ice-cream and slushies. For the homesteader, elderberries are processed and made into jams and sweet syrups.
The use that I have found most intriguing is its cold and flu remedy.
Elderberries have been used traditionally for centuries throughout Europe, North America and Western Asia for its medicinal properties. It was used to treat infection, remedy colds and flu and as a diuretic when stomach ailments arose.
Today it’s been tested and used for it’s antioxidant activity, to boost the immune system, lower cholesterol, for heart health and to improve vision.
Over the past couple of years I’ve been reading about its uses to fight winter time coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections. A syrup is made and taken by the spoonful to reduce the length in time of colds and flu.
What I especially love about this treatment is that the syrup is as sweet as candy and something children will actually enjoy taking.
Elderberry Syrup For Colds And Flu
- 1 cup fresh, ripened elderberries
- 2 cups water
- 1/2-1 cup raw honey
- Remove berries from the stems making sure to keep as much of the branch and stems separated from the berries. (Too large of a quantity can be poisonous)
- In a sauce pan, add 1 cup berries and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Once the berries have simmered for a half hour, mash the berries with a potato masher.
- Strain through a jelly bag to separate the juice from the berries skin and seeds.
- Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup raw honey, stir well and store in a mason jar in the refrigerator. This should keep for 2-3 months.
As a preventative, a tablespoon a day can be given to adults or a teaspoon a day to children.
At the first sign of illness, a tablespoon full every 2-3 hours for adults or a teaspoonful every 2-3 hours for children.