The elderberries are ‘a point‘ (Ie black, juicy and lovely looking) right now here in Yorkshire. For years I desperately wanted to make something from these berries that hang down in big juicy clumps in every hedgerow…. But what?
It turns out that there is truly an excellent use of these berries. Made into a simple syrup they not only taste nice and are safe to drink but they are positively excellent for boosting immunity in winter.
I haven’t researched the research extensively (ie don’t sue me if this is just internet hearsay) but Wellness Mama claims (here) and the Healthy Home Economist claims (here) that there is good research to back up the claim that elderberry syrup is effective in both preventing colds and flu and speeding up recovery from colds and flu if you have already been hit.
Last year we basically spent winter being ill with one nameless lurgy after another so I was really happy to devote one afternoon of relatively kid friendly elderberry sorting and boiling and straining in the hope that this may offer some kind of help through the dark months.
If you too would like to join the elderberry syrupers then please do find instructions below.
- 3 cups elderberries
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup raw honey
(I have been having 1 tsp per day and giving the kids 1/2 tsp per day)
Picking elderberries is easy. We just headed out with a big bag and a pair of scissors. One lane offered more than enough for our needs.
The most time consuming part of making the syrup was definitely removing the berries from the stems then picking through the bowl of elderberries to pick all the unripe berries and bits of stalk out. The unripe berries and stems are not safe to eat (especially before being cooked) so it is worthwhile being fairly diligent about this. However, pulling the berries off the stems is not as hard as you might imagine. Use a fork to pull the berries off in clusters.
Put the elderberries in a pan with the water and simmer for 45 minutes or so until the water reduces. I was aiming to reduce the mixture by half and I think that I actually reduced it by much more than half by mistake.
Mash the mixture then strain through a fine sieve or a muslin. When it is approaching room temperature, add the honey and mix.
Pour into glass bottles/ jars and store in the fridge or a cold pantry for up to a couple of months. Make extra and freeze it if you would like to guarantee a supply for January! I actually froze some extra berries ready to make more syrup when needed as my freezer is currently full of raw milk.