Who has time to be sick? A week in bed? Yeah right. Sickness is life wasted feeling miserable. Let's outsmart colds and flu by taking some preventative action today!
How about making some simple homemade elderberry syrup with dried elderberries, honey, herbs and spices for a delicious immune-boosting remedy?
Use this elderberry syrup medicinally or on pancakes, waffles or French toast.
This is my first year making homemade elderberry syrup. It's also the first year I have yet to get sick and I'm hoping the trend continues!
My secret? One teaspoon morning and night of elderberry syrup. That and never touching shopping cart handles or using public restrooms. Eww.
There is significant proof that black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) can help ward off illness and speed up recovery for those already sick.
And don't underestimate the power of raw honey to heal your body.
Liquid gold loaded with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. So elderberries and raw honey are the dynamic duo for health and wellness.
Ready for a new adventure? Let's make some homemade elderberry syrup together. My new go-to remedy to boost my immune system in the cooler months.
What natural remedies do you recommend to beat sickness?
Benefits of homemade elderberry syrup using raw honey:
Israeli researchers found that the complex sugars in elderberries support the immune system in fighting cold and flu.
One source, Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses used to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat.
Elderberry syrup can actually prevent infection.
If taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract.
In one clinical trial, 20% of study subjects reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% claimed complete cure in three days. In contrast, subjects receiving the placebo required 6 days to recover.
Elderberry syrup provides the concentrated immune-supporting benefits of black elderberries in a scrumptious way.
My homemade recipe uses homemade elderberry concentrate with synergistic herbs like cinnamon and ginger and cloves, plus raw honey for an extra immune boost.
Why make your own elderberry syrup?
It's tough to pinpoint exact savings because a lot depends on how much you spend on the raw ingredients for this DIY syrup~ the dried elderberry and the raw honey.
As a rough estimate, you'll pay about half of what you would if you choose to buy.
But perhaps the biggest advantage is knowing the exact ingredients and the quality of those ingredients invested in your homemade elderberry syrup.
When I make my own syrup, I know that the water needed has been purified and filtered. No tap water! I also know that the elderberries are high quality and that the honey is 100% raw.
With purchased syrup, you don't have this guarantee.
So of course, you can buy lots of natural elderberry syrups online and in most health food stores, but usually around $15 or more for 3-4 ounces. Emphasis on the more bit!
This recipe makes 32 - 60 ounces. Since I made a huge batch that will last all winter, the cost was about $25 with plenty of dried elderberry for next winter.
That said, if time is short, there are some great pre-made elderberry gummies and elderberry syrup that work nearly as well. The gummies in particular are quite yummy!
Also, if you happen to have fresh or frozen elderberries on hand, just use double the quantity listed in the recipe.
A quick note on customization
That's why the cinnamon, grated ginger and cloves are somewhat optional. But keep in mind, that those herbs and spices do have benefits in their own right.
Cinnamon has always helped me regulate my wacky blood sugar!
And honey may or may not be to your taste, but it can't be denied that's it's liquid gold for your body. (See raw honey below).
Your best bet? Taste this "recipe" as you go. As the elderberry boils down, taste it.
I found it to be quite sour. Not a bad sour, but I needed to add that honey to sweeten it up for my taste buds and those of my kids!
After you take a swig of just the elderberry juice your instinct will guide you.
Keep in mind that you can't reverse the damage. So if you add too much cinnamon, there's no going back.
Add a little bit. Taste then add more if need be. I ended up with a huge batch just to my liking for all winter.
Why is raw honey so sweet for heath and wellness?
The cheap honey found on most grocery store shelves is a far cry from the raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized honey from a local bee keeper.
Commercial honey products are often heated to high temperatures, filtered and sometimes ruined even more with added color, flavor and other bad sweeteners. Think corn syrup!
Many beekeepers say that they consider honey raw only if it has not been heated above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once processing heat exceeds 105 degrees, the consistency of raw honey changes along with the taste.
Raw honey is smooth and creamy, can be found in liquid form, and has no aftertaste, while highly processed honey often has a somewhat smoky aftertaste.
All this processing kills the enzymes and antioxidant properties along with those immune-boosting abilities.
And don't be fooled by words like "natural" or "pure;" they mean nothing in regards to honey processing.
Raw honey also acts as a preservative making your syrup last longer. So if you omit the honey, you are essentially making elderberry juice not syrup.
The juice will not last as long in the fridge so the shelf life decreases greatly minus the honey.
A fact to buzz about!
Did you know?
Honey ~ Best antique ever!
Is your honey real?
And if you're up for a real adventure, do the flame test. If water has been added to honey, it will not burn. Place a cotton wick in a dollop of the honey and light it - pure honey will burn.
Ingredients and supplies for homemade elderberry syrup:
*Remember to add the honey in 1/2 cup increments to your taste*
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 - 1.5 hour
Total Time 1-2 hours
Servings 32 - 60 ounces
Step-by-step instructions on how to make homemade elderberry syrup:
- Pour the water in a large pot then add the elderberries. You can add your cinnamon, cloves and ginger now or wait until after you add the honey. (I waited to taste the elderberries to figure what was needed.)
- Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and then cover. Reduce and simmer on low between 1 - 1.5 hours until the liquid has been reduced to about half.
- Give it a good stir every time you walk through the kitchen.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. About 30 minutes.
- Mash the berries right in the pot using a potato masher or strainer. This helps get all the nutrients out of those berries!
- Attach your cheesecloth on the top of a separate pot.
- Pour or ladle through a cheesecloth-lined strainer to remove the berries from the elderberry juice.
- Compost your elderberries. Allow the liquid to cool until lukewarm.
- When juice has cooled to room temperature taste it. Sour...right? This is partly why we add the honey~ to sweeten it in a healthy way. Start by adding 1 cup of honey. Mix well. Taste it again. Then add the honey in increments of 1/2 cup. I needed 3 cups of honey total. Mix well!
- If you didn't add cinnamon, ginger or cloves before, now is the time. Don't add any spice you hate! Pick and choosing is fine.
- Store in air-tight glass Mason jars. I used 16 ounce jars. and ended up with a whopping 58 ounces!
Elderberry syrup dosage and taste?
Sometimes the kids only get 1/2 teaspoon if I'm short but they usually sucker me into giving them the full teaspoon
If any of us does get sick, we double that. So adults take at least 2 teaspoons morning and night, kids take one teaspoon morning and night. If super desperate, I confess, I'll even triple the dose with no worries.
Elderberry syrup has a unique flavor. You just have to try it for yourself! Berry-ish like none other. The honey sweetens it a ton. Certainly the cinnamon, ginger and cloves do their part, too!
After my kids take their teaspoon, they always ask for more! My older daughter said it was absolutely delicious.
It's funny they never forget to remind me to give it to them morning and night!
How long does elderberry syrup last in the fridge?
My preference was to put the finished syrup in mason canning jars while it is still warm creating an air-tight seal. This allows it to last much longer in the fridge, up to several months.
I store these at the back of my fridge where it is not only colder, but they don't get in the way of all the day-to-day food I'm trying to access!
But as a general rule, it lasts about two weeks in the fridge. It's a good idea to freeze what you won't use up in that two-week timeframe.
It's also smart to freeze extra juice in ice-trays if you have any extra in your fridge. Easy access and easy to use.
Especially for the kids! They love elderberries ice treats!
Is there a substitute for honey in elderberry syrup?
A mature immune system is not vulnerable to this low level of exposure, but the immature immune and gastrointestinal systems of an infant make babies more vulnerable to honey.
Some easy substitutes are:
- Use maple syrup or nutrient-rich molasses in place of the honey.
- Omit the sweetener and make elderberry juice over elderberry syrup. But be aware, the juice will be very tart and sour to your taste buds.
Can the elderberries be reused?
What you don't want to do is attempt to reuse them for any subsequent batches of elderberry syrup you intend to make.
After they have been boiled or mashed, most of the nutrients have been removed. And you wouldn't have it any other way! Because those nutrients are in your syrup.
There's also some evidence that consuming large amounts of the whole berries can be a problem. So don't the tempted to eat them.
Compost bin. Done. No guilt here.