A conversation about elderberry syrup, its benefits and uses…and a recipe
Ann: Kirst, I’ve made a batch of spiced Elderberry syrup. I think with the weather starting to cool and with seasonal viruses around its a good idea to be prepared.
As a naturopath could you explain a bit about the medicinal use of elderberry?
Kirsty: Elderberry is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-influenza properties. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals for the immune system. Kids love it, which is a bonus in our house.
Elder was the first plant, that I planted on the farm, traditionally it is thought to plant Elder in the corner of the herb garden as it helps the other herbs that grow there.
“When you settle a share of land, first plant an Elder tree, then make your home there.” — T. Elder Sachs
Ann: I’m not keen on making syrups with sugar, so I’ve made this one with honey. I always add the honey at the end after slightly cooling the elderberries so that the honey isn’t cooked as traditionally raw honey is seen as healthier. What’s your take on the use of syrups and honey?
Kirsty: Syrups are great for colds and sore throats, as they coat the mucus membranes in the throat and keep the herbs in direct contact with the part that needs to be soothed.
Honey adds to the medicinal properties compared to using sugar which depresses the immune system. Spices also enhance the flavour of the syrup but have the extra benefit of stimulating the circulation and have excellent antimicrobial properties.
Ann: Great because I’ve also added some herbs and spices to this formula. They taste delicious, but from a healthcare perspective what are their advantages?
Kirsty: The Liquorice in the formula is sweet and soothing to mucous membranes, it is antiviral and anti-inflammatory, can be used to make other herbs taste better in herbal medicine.
All the warming and invigorating spices you’ve chosen bring a beautiful warmth to the mix with their delicious, warming energy.
Long Pepper – similar to Black Pepper is a metabolic stimulant, warms the body and clears mucus.
Cinnamon – is antimicrobial, mildly stimulates the circulation and gently warms the body, so helps remove feeling of coldness….
Ginger – multi facetted healing spice, internally warming. Along with Cayenne and Cinnamon has a carrier function, it helps enhance the absorption of the other herbs in the body.
Cardamom – helps with mucus congestion in lungs and sinuses
Cloves – effective against colds and flu, dilate blood vessels, helps with circulation, high in antioxidants and antimicrobial.
Star Anise – Interestingly, most of the star anise production is used to isolate a constituent to produce Tamiflu (antiviral medication against influenza A + B).
Nutmeg – Is antimicrobial and I love its fragrance as it is freshly grated.
Ann & Kirsty: Our formula for elderberry syrup follows, we’ve based it on an effective Rosemary Gladstar formulation and then we’ve made it our own with the added herbs and spices. It’s easy to make and we hope you enjoy the flavour…and the health benefits ???
1 cup dry organic elderberries or two cups of fresh organic elderberries*
6 cups filtered water
2 cups of raw honey or equivalent vegan syrup alternative, you could also use stevia to sweeten but it wouldn’t give a syrupy result.
1 teas licorice root
1 small finger of fresh ginger
6 whole cloves
1/2 teas of fresh ground nutmeg
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 teas ground cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
1 long pepper
2 star anise
Place berries and herbs and spices into a stainless steel or heatproof glass pan if possible as the elderberries may stain enamel.
Bring to the boil and then reduce kto a gentle simmer uncovered for about 30-45 mins or the liquid has reduced to about half.
Cool slightly and strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on berries with the back of a spoon to extract all the goodness.
Add the honey stir until dissolved.
Pour into sterilised glass bottles and cap.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.
*only use dark blue/black elderberries as the red ones are potentially toxic if eaten in large quantities. Never eat raw elderberries, cook them before consuming. Always know and trust your elderberry source.