When cold season hit a few years ago, my husband and I got our tired, drippy selves to our wonderful family doctor. Knowing that we prefer homeopathic and natural remedies over prescription drugs and the like, Dr. Debbie Campbell recommended elderberry syrup for our colds.
I had never heard of elderberries and was worried that it was probably some dreadful concoction that tasted of pine sap and fish eyes. She swore by the stuff and even went so far as to drop off some at our house.
It was delicious! In fact, I came to discover that people put elderberry syrup on pancakes- for pure yumminess! And, miracle of miracles, it really did help our colds.
We liked it so much, that we took a trip to Edible Landscaping in the spring and bought two native elderberries in tiny quart-size pots. They are now over eight feet tall and have produced giant foot wide clusters of beautiful white blooms followed by massive clusters of berries. The berries themselves are tiny (think large peppercorns), blackish purple and pretty acidic.
Elderberries blooming in our backyard (reaching the carport roof)
A giant bloom! (Honeybees love these.)
As Mama Nature would have it, elderberries are ready to harvest shortly before the beginning of cold season (meaning they’re almost done now).
At harvest time, I cut the whole cluster of berries off of the stem and plop them in a bowl. Once inside I set up my syrup/juice making gear: another big bowl (for the berries), a fine sieve (or cheesecloth), honey, water and a saucepan.
Here’s what you do:
- Remove the berries from their stems. (Picking the berries off by hand has proven to be the easiest way for me.)
- Squish the berries into a juicy mash with your hands (or, I suppose, a potato masher) and add a bit of water to make it easier to work with.
- Pour the mushy mix through a fine sieve (or cheesecloth)
- Pour the remaining juice into a saucepan
- Heat the juice, boiling off as much of the liquid as you like (less liquid = more syrupy).
- Add honey while hot to fully dissolve.
- Enjoy hot or cooled and sip your cold away!
What cold cures work for you?