I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, delicious food, and laughter. We actually ended up staying home from our celebration, as my son was sick AGAIN! He is all better today, but we’ve been in the house a lot with little ills more often than I would like to admit. I’ve been cooking up chicken broth, and we’ve been taking probiotics and elderberry daily too. I know it’s helping, but little kids just seem to be susceptible to every little germ out there!!
Do you know about the wonderful Elderberry? So first of all it is a berry, so of course contains antioxidants, which are great for warding off cancer and various other diseases. It has long been used to treat respiratory diseases such as cold and flu, and some evidence suggests that elder may help reduce sinus swelling and nasal congestion.
Studies have also suggested that the little elderberry has some amazing powers, such as possibly reducing the duration of flu by 3 days as well as reducing flu symptoms. One study even showed elderberry extract actually killing the H1N1 flu virus in a test tube!!?
So I’ve been buying a prepared Elderberry Syrup for years that I think has been effective in helping us fight the flu. But this year I decided to get crafty and try making some myself. The original recipe I used was too sweet for our liking, so I reduced the honey a bit and it came out just great. We have been using it once a day for prevention and more frequently when sick or trying to fight something off. We have been taking 1 tablespoon a day for adults and 1 teaspoon a day for children (skipping a day at least once a week) and up to 4 tablespoons a day for adults and 3 teaspoons a day for children when sick or fighting something. This syrup has several other immune boosting and anti-bacterial herbs and spices, and is also really delicious. I usually put some in the freezer too; the honey keeps it from freezing too hard and it is so yummy to take frozen. And do use raw honey if you are able, it is full of live enzymes and good stuff that gets killed in the pasteurization/heating process of typical honey.
It should be noted that raw elderberries have a chemical in them similar to cyanide, so need to be cooked to make them safe for ingestion. Anyone on medications or with special issues should speak to their doctor before using elderberry. And please remember not to give this syrup to any child under 1 as it contains honey, which can be toxic for little ones.
If you are sensitive to honey, or want to give this remedy to your littlest ones, stay tuned for an updated post soon. My next batch will be made with maple syrup, as I have embarked on a new diet to help with my IBS, a low FODMAP foods diet, but more on this later!
And here it is, I know you’ve been waiting for it, another use for the nut milk bag! When the syrup is done it needs to be strained, which can be done through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or, you guessed it, nut milk bag! I used my nut milk bag last time and was really pleased because I was really able to squeeze all the elder-goodness out at the end.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup dried elderberries
4 cups filtered water
2 inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
3/4 cup raw honey
Add all ingredients except honey to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the mixture reduce by half, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag. When the mixture has cooled but is still warm (118 degrees F or less) whisk in the honey and store in a glass jar in the fridge, or in the freezer. The mixture should keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
I’d love to hear what you use to keep your family healthy during cold and flu season!