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My husband’s job happens to keep him outdoors in some of the most beautiful country that God ever created! Although elderberries grow near our Farm, they don’t grow on the Farm, so my husband is sure to pick me some every year when I ask him. This year he found a really great spot and his harvest did not disappoint! I’ve spent the day making juice and syrup and drying these little gems for future use.
Before we get started, remember that with this or any of our Foraging on the Farm posts, there is no substitute for your own research, and we expect you to do that. I own three foraging and medicinal herb books, I use a plant identifying app and Google Lens. All of these resources help me make informed identification and usage decisions. If you’re ever in doubt, trust me, you don’t need it that badly. Be safe and sure! Also, I’m not a doctor and if you’re looking for medical advice, you’ve come to the wrong place! I expect you to do your own research there as well and to make informed decisions for you and your family. The information you find in any Foraging on the Farm post is meant to be a jumping off point to spur on your own study.
So, Why Forage Elderberries?
According to Rosemary Gladstar’s book, “Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide”, elderberries have immune-enhancing properties. Further research shows that elderberries are a great source of Vitamin C and antioxidants. They also are anti-inflammatory. These tiny powerhouses also have Vitamin A, iron and potassium! They are often used in one form or another to help lessen the effects of coughs and colds. Consuming elderberries raw in any great quantity can cause gastrointestinal issues, but those issues are eliminated when the berries are heated.
This year I am making elderberry syrup and drying elderberries. Drying elderberries is a new thing for me. I plan on using them in a tea diffuser alongside rosehips during cold and flu season. Read about rosehips here.
Let’s talk about making the syrup!
8 Cups of Elderberries
5 Cups of Water
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Ginger, minced
2 Cups of Honey
Place the berries and ginger in a large stock pot after rinsing. Cover with the water and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, mashing the berries on occasion to release the juice.
Strain the berries through a wire mesh sieve into a bowl pressing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon to release more juice.
Add honey to the juice stirring to combine and return it to the stock pot. Honey is a great addition as it also contains antioxidants and is soothing on a sore throat. Cook the juice down until it is reduced by about half. This should take 20-30 minutes longer.
Pour into a sterilized bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 12 weeks. I am not going to recommend water bath canning your elderberry syrup. In my research, I have learned that elderberries don’t have the necessary pH to successfully water bath them. If you find information that says otherwise, drop a comment and give me a source. In my research, I haven’t found much to recommend it. Instead, I would advise pouring it in to ice cube trays and freezing. Pop the elderberry ice cubes out and store them in a freezer bag. Defrost as needed.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, take 1-2 Tablespoons of the syrup several times a day.
Here’s to a healthy winter season!