I spent last weekend making elderberry syrup and tincture and am feeling ready for flu and cold season now; also tackled a box full of beautiful Suncrest and Indian Red peaches and made some “summer in a jar” peach preserves. Next post will have that recipe. There is nothing like having jars of preserves and syrups lined up in my pantry and fridge to make me feel ready for fall and winter.
Tried my hand at making raisins for the first time with some organic, heirloom Italian green grapes growing in the school garden. Just dried them on a large clean window screen, left out on a picnic table in the sun and covered with bird netting to keep out the critters. The 8th graders cleaned off all the stems during gardening class last week and they were a huge hit at our school Produce Sale this week!
3 to 4 lbs. cleaned elderberries (fresh or frozen, not dried)
¾ – 1 cup water
Fresh ginger, 1 – 2 TBSP grated
3 or 4 cinnamon sticks, plus ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves plus 5 or 6 whole cloves
Raw, local honey (about ½ cup per every cup of strained juice) or to taste
Remove the elderberries from the stems – if you freeze them right after picking they are easier to clean when frozen. You don’t have to get every single bit of stem since you will be straining it.
The recipe is based on having about 5 or 6 cups cleaned elderberries. If you have less you can adjust the recipe to use less spices and water. It’s a very flexible recipe so precision is not necessary. 🙂
Gently rinse the cleaned berries and put them in a non-aluminum pot and bring to boil. Turn down heat to simmer, add water and all the spices but not the honey. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently so berries don’t burn. Turn off heat, remove the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves if you used them and let cool a bit. Pour it into a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth or a sieve if you have one; placed over a bowl tall enough to keep the strainer above the juice. Using a wooden spoon, gently press down on the mixture to release as much juice as possible. Let the colander or sieve sit above the bowl for an hour or so to continue to drip. Meanwhile, wash several small glass pint jars and lids in hot, soapy water and rinse well. When you have pushed all the juice out of the elderberry mixture, remove the sieve or colander and make sure to compost the leftover mash or feed it to your chickens. It’s good stuff! Put the strained juice mixture back into the cooking pot and turn on heat to very low. It should be thin and runny, if it is thick add water to thin out. Turn off the heat and add the honey to taste. Stir well to incorporate all the honey. Pour into your clean jars, let cool, label the jars with the date and put in fridge. You can store in fridge for 6 -12 months. IMPORTANT: do not give this syrup to children under 2 years old because it contains honey! At first sign of cold or scratchy throat, take 1 – 2 teaspoons of syrup. Repeat every few hours. You can also take a teaspoon a day to support your immune system during the cold/flu season.
This is easy to make. Just fill a clean glass jar with freshly cleaned elderberries, leaving about 2 or 3 inches at the top. Pour in 80 to 100 proof vodka (which is 40 – 50% alcohol- do not use less than 40 proof) to cover the berries and screw lid on tightly. Label the jar and place in a cool dark place. You will need to shake it gently every few days for about 2 weeks, then you can let it sit for another 4 to 6 weeks before straining the mixture through a sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze out all the juice when you strain it by pushing it down with a wooden spoon. I strain it into a glass cup with a spout so I can them pour the tincture into tinted glass jars that have a dropper. You can save these kind of jars and clean well to reuse or you can buy them on Amazon. They are not expensive. You don’t have to use this kind of jar but it makes it easier to measure out just a few drops. The dosage is a few drops directly under your tongue or in a small glass of warm water once or twice a day. This is more concentrated than the elderberry syrup so just a few drops a day is enough. Because it has alcohol do NOT give to children, use the Elderberry Syrup for your young ones and tincture for adults, although not just children love the syrup!
I like making my own Elderberry Syrup and Tincture because I know all the ingredients are fresh, local and made with love, which seems to make them even more potent.