The cold and flu season is upon us once again, so I just made a batch of elderberry syrup to give our immune systems a boost, but also because it’s plain delicious and we love it. Elderberries are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Iron and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin C (reference here, for FRESH elderberries, but you get a good idea of the nutritional value).
Elderberry extract is available commercially, but I prefer making our own version since I like knowing what I put in it and I’m able to control the sweetness, plus it’s more economical to DIY.
Disclaimer: This isn’t meant to replace medical advice — I’m not a health or medical practitioner, just a mom who loves good food and who has made decisions about our family’s nutritional needs based on experience plus the wisdom of other moms. Here’s some basic info from WebMD, and there are scientific papers linked below if you want to read more on elderberry, but your doctor’s the best person to ask if you have any questions. All I know is our family hasn’t been seriously hit with the flu since 2011, so we’ve just continued making/taking it. And there isn’t a consensus on recommended dosage, so we limit ourselves to a tablespoon or so a day, except on those days when we enjoy a bit more on our pancakes or mixed into a smoothie. Not for kiddies under 2 (because of the honey) and also, this review says not for pregnant women. If in doubt, always ask your doctor. Whenever we take something that’s not prescribed by the doctor I always make it a point to let him know that we’re taking it so he can put it in our charts and if there are any problems, he’s already informed.
To make this syrup, you’ll need:
2/3 cup dried black elderberries (I like these)
3 1/2 cups water
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped finely
2 cinnamon sticks (Ceylon preferred, like these) broken into pieces or run briefly in spice grinder (doesn’t have to be ground finely)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup raw honey (we like this)
(I prefer using organic ingredients, but it’s not necessary.)
Put all ingredients except honey into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for an hour, and then remove cover and boil on high heat 10 more minutes to reduce. Remove from heat and let cool, partially covered, to lukewarm. Strain into a large bowl, pressing on the solids to get all the goodness out of them, then add the honey and mix well with a whisk (or when I’m lazy, I run through the blender). Store in an airtight container (I like these flasks) and refrigerate. I honestly don’t know how long it lasts because there’s 7 of us and it gets used up pretty quickly around here.
Store in the fridge and take 1 tablespoon daily, or every 4 hours if you get hit with cold or flu.
More reading if you like:
– Herbal Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of Influenza and Influenza-Like Illness
– Anti-Influenza Virus Effects of Elderberry Juice and Its Fractions
– The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines
– Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections
– Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama