Homemade Elderberry Syrup

March 09, 2011

If you are like me, you have had to cancel or reschedule your fair share of meetings, play dates and activities this winter due to colds.  In fact our family has been hit hard this week as my husband currently has pneumonia, our daughter has an ear infection, feaver and cough, our youngest has a fever and a cough and I do as well.  Hunter’s symptoms are more mild but I don’t know how long that will last while being around the rest of us sickies.

After talking with one of my friends, I discovered that she has been making an elderberry syrup for her family to help boost their immune system.  Although I was familiar with the immune boosting properties of elderberries, I had never thought to try to make my own elixir!  Turns out it is both easy and affordable (double bonus)!  Now, before I share the recipe, I will first share with you what Wikipedia has to say about the benefits of elderberries:

Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Sambucus nigra L. may be an effective treatment for H1N1 flu. A 1995 study found: “A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B.” A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given elderberry extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. A 2009 study found that the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Amantadine. A 2004 study found that symptoms of influenza A and B virus infections were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. The study stated, “Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study”.

Now I don’t know about you, but that seems like something worth trying right?  If you purchase elderberry syrup at a store like Supper Supplements you can expect to pay between $4.50 (for 2 oz) – $19.50 (for 5.4 oz).  However, making 3 cups of syrup (24 oz) at home will cost you less than $3.00!  Here is how you do it:

1/2 cup of dried elderberries (I was able to purchase these at a local heath food store)

1/2 cup of honey (preferably raw)

3 cups of water

-Combine the dried elderberries with the water and bring to a boil.

-Cover and simmer 30 to 40 min (usually finished in about 30 min).

-Mash the berries in the water, then strain them and pour the juice into a mixing bowl.  The first time I made this I simply mashed the berries and poured out the juice but the second time I mashed the berries and then put a paper towel (or a cheese cloth would have been even better as one reader suggested, if I would have had some on hand) over my bowl and poured the juice though.  The berries that were “caught” in the towel were then squeezed to remove all extra juice.  I think this method did a better job of removing all the yummy juice from the berries.

-Add your honey and mix in.  I prefer to wait to add the honey until the syrup is no longer “hot” but just warm.  This way it still mixes in well but preserves the good properties present in the raw honey.

-Pour the mixture into a jar (such as a canning jar) and keep it in the fridge.

I wish that the Wikipedia article would have mentioned the dosing they used for their tests but I didn’t notice any.  A dose suggestion is once a day when you aren’t sick and more when you are–about 1 to 2 tbs per dose.  If any of you have any personal experience with making your own syrup or have dosing suggestions please share!

I thought that the taste was quite pleasant but my kids were not quite as impressed so for them I simply add a little more honey or mix it with equal parts grape juice.  I have also experimented with adding it to oatmeal and my fruit smoothies and both worked well.  Here is hoping that it helps us heal quickly!

After making this recipe (and discovering how many cool herbs I could buy at my local health food store) I got excited about the idea of making my own home remedies.  I bought the online ebook Herbal Nurturing and started right in on the Natural Elm Bark Lozenges.  They were both fun and simple to make and I appreciated the extra tips, info and suggestions on how to include my little ones in the process!  Interested in making some of your own cough syrups, lozenges, balms, teas and more?  Check out the comprehensive Herbal Nurturing guide for only $8.95*!

*Full disclosure: After buying this book and enjoying it myself, I signed up to be an affiliate so clicking through my links will bring you to the site via my affiliate code.

**Disclaimer: Obviously I am not a doctor and this is not “medical advice”. :)

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