With winter still holding on here in the Northeast, Flu season is still going strong. This year's flu season has been particularly bad and widespread. Making matters worse is the poor match up of the flu strains for the shot this year. Lots of people are sick. Add in your regular colds on top of all of that and this winter has been pretty gnarly.
Our family is big into vitamins and supplements to increase health and immunity. On my "winter helpers" list is normally multiple bottles of Elderberry Syrup.
Elderberry Syrup is made from the berries of the Sambucus Nigra flowering plant. The berries themselves are very high in vitamin C, vitamin A, are anti-inflammatory, and have been shown in studies to be anti-viral as well. It is really good stuff, but also really pricey stuff, too. With a family of 5 taking it daily during the winter months, it gets really expensive to purchase.
This year, I was determined to make my own syrup.
There are a quite a few places to get dried elderberries. This year though, it was difficult to find them in stock. News has spread that these little berries can help so much during the winter months. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herb. Once my order came in, I was ready to make my syrup.
The syrup is really easy to make. There are different variations of the same basic syrup recipe. Since my kids are over a year old I chose honey as my sweetener/preservative. There are recipes that you can use for kids younger than a year, as well as recipes that use alcohol (mainly vodka) as the preservative.
Here is what you need for a basic Elderberry Syrup:
2/3 cup of dried elderberries
1 cup of raw honey
3.5 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick
1 mason jar or another kind of glass jar to store the syrup in
Note: You can also add cloves, dried ginger, and Echinacea. For this batch I used Echinacea (1 tsp) but it isn't necessary.
Step 1: In a saucepan add the dried elderberries, cinnamon stick, and water (I also added the Echinacea at this point too).
Step 2: Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat till it is simmering. Let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the mixture has reduced till about half the amount.
Step 3: After it has reduced, take it off the heat and let it cool till it is comfortable to touch the outside of the sauce pan. You don't want it super cold or hot.
Step 4: Strain through a small holed strainer. You don't want any of the berries or any of the solids in the syrup.
Step 5: Time to add the honey! Add the honey and stir till it is fully dissolved in the syrup.
Step 6: Add to whatever container you are going to store it in. I used a 16oz Mason Jar.
Stick your syrup in the fridge and you are done!
The basic dosage for Elderberry syrup is 1 tsp a day for kids, and 2 tsp for adults.
If you are sick or feeling run down you can increase the amount to doing that same dosage multiple times a day.
My kids and I take it daily and we have noticed less colds and icky stuff this year. Combine this syrup with healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and proper hand washing, this winter might not be so bad after all!
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