Why Use Elderberry Syrup?
Medical Herbalists use Elderberries to strengthen our bodies against colds and flu. They contain high amounts of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system in 13 different ways, and a constituent called Sambucol. Sambucol has been shown to deactivate the cold virus by making it less able to stick to our cell walls and invade the cells. More recently, Elderberry has been shown to reduce the chances of catching respiratory infections during flights.
Elderberries ripen anytime between late August and October. You can tell they are ripe when they have a lovely dark purple sheen and they are hanging down in bunches from the bush. Elderberries tend to have a rather metallic aftertaste if used raw, and so they benefit from being cooked. You can also use elderberries with other autumn fruits such as blackberries in fruit pies and jams, or to make a delicious wine. They were used as a dye in former times, and their juice does tend to stain clothes so an apron may come in handy.
This syrup is delicious and fine for children to drink, although you may want to leave the spices out for a child’s version. Drunk warm when you have a cold it will gently bring your temperature down by inducing sweating. We call this a ‘diaphoretic’. You can also pour some on your ice cream or if you’re feeling really indulgent, it goes well in a glass of Prosecco!
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Elderberries – for your first attempt, I suggest you try about ten bunches.
- Sugar – I tend to use soft brown or molasses sugar for this recipe as it unrefined sugars are much better for us and give a richer taste. A couple of pounds should be more than enough.
- Any spices you may wish to add. Cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves or fresh ginger all work well.
- A saucepan with a lid, a sieve, and some sterilised glass bottles.
How To Make It:
- Pick your elderberries and leave them outside for an hour or so to let the critters off to find new homes! Wash them and remove them from the stalk with the back of a fork.
- Simmer the elderberries with your spices for about half an hour, in just enough water to help soften them, in a saucepan with the lid on, until they are quite mushy.
- Strain the resulting mush to get rid of the pips and skins, and press the mush to extract as much juice as you can.
- For each pint of juice extracted, add one pound of sugar.
- Bring the juice and sugar mixture back to the heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for ten minutes, and continue stirring all the time, by which time it should thicken to the consistency of a syrup.
- Leave the syrup until completely cold, stirring occasionally.
- Bottle the cold syrup into sterilised glass bottles and label them with the contents name and date.
- Elderberry Syrup is best stored in the fridge once opened
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?!
If the syrup does not thicken with boiling for ten minutes, add a little more sugar and boil for a little while longer.