When I harvested elderberries back in July to make elderberry syrup, I thought it would stay stored in the kitchen cabinet until the winter cold and flu season… Ha! Sure enough, just a couple of weeks later, all three of us were down with a fairly convincing cold that didn’t seem to waste time asking what season it was. So classic. So out comes that bottle of elderberry syrup. Am I glad that I spent that evening on the riverbank climbing trees and fighting with the birds over the juiciest, ripest berries!
Elderberry syrup is a potent natural remedy for sore throats and other cold and flu symptoms. The berries of the elder tree (Sambucus) have anti-viral, immune-boosting properties and are high in vitamins A, B, and C. The syrup is really easy to make and it’s one of the best-tasting herbal syrups out there. I followed, once again, Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe in Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, using fresh berries. But dried elderberries work as well. Simmered in water with ginger and cloves and steeped in honey, they turn into a luxuriously deep-red and sweet-tasting remedy. You can either take this syrup preventatively to ward off the cold or, if the sniffles and the cough already got you, to speed recovery.
Here are a few different recipes for elderberry syrup if you don’t have Rosemary’s book:
- Ashley English’ Elderberry and Honey Syrup on Design*Sponge
- Wellness Mama: How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention
- Holistic Squid elderberry syrup recipe
(Just to be clear, since I mentioned all three of us being sick: this syrup cannot be given to an infant under 1 year of age because it has honey in it. I’m hoping my baby gets some of the healing properties through breast milk… Or, in the very least, gets some of the benefit because her mama, who IS taking the syrup, is feeling a little less sick and therefore a little more energetic. Yes?)