Black Elderberry Syrup – Remedy for colds and flu

We have definitely entered flu and cold season. Whereever I look I see a runny nose (well, most of them are at Eva’s daycare, but still) and some one coughing. Some people are good at coughing and sneezing into their arms, but unfortunally most people seem to cough into the air or into their hands. Avoiding getting at least a dozen colds this season seems almost impossible. Especially for me and Eva. Last year Eva was still breastfed, but she weaned before Anton arrived and now all of the sudden she seems to catch a lot of colds and they seem more persistent. And for some reason I seem to be more welcoming towards colds than I usually am (it could be something with not getting enough sleep).

I’ve just started making these ginger and tumeric shots again for myself and Ben to boost our immune system for the winter months, but it’s not really to Eva’s liking. I’ve therefore looked into black elderberries and their many benefits and decided to give them a go. And so far I’m glad I did as we’v actually had a few weeks without any new colds now. I initially thought about bying an elderberry syrup as a supplement, but quickly realized it is so easy to make your own syrup, that it seems silly not to and then it only costs a fraction of the store bought kind.

So what’s so great about elderberries?

Black elderberries are high in vitamin A and C and like ginger and tumeric they’re a great booster for the immune system. The berries seems to help against viruses and have specifically been shown to relief both cold and fly symptoms like fevers, sore troats and chills. It’s suppose to reduce the number of days you’re ill, but also help protect you from catching the cold or flu in the first place. Just what you need this time of year! Some other benefits that I’ve come across that the berries are suppose to be good for are aiding with sinus infections, lower blod sugar and easing some allergies. If you want to read a bit more in depth about the benefits give this a read.

A word of caution if picking fresh berries

Be aware that if you pick your own berries to make the syrup that you under no circumstances should eat the berries or drink the juice raw. They are poiseness. Instead the berries need to be boiled and the seeds need to be filtered out. But it’s super easy and part of the process of making the syrup, so don’t sweat it. Just keep an eye out for your toddler – and even older kids – so they don’t sneak a few berries into their mouths. I’m sure Eva would if she had the chance. Just because they look yummy. Also remember to only pick the dark, ripe berries and not the red ones.

You’ll need:

You can find several different recipes for elderberry syrup on the internet and after having tried a few different ratios of the ingredients, this is the one I’ve ended up with. Note that all the spices are optional, but I recommend adding them as they all have different health benefits and add some to the taste of the syrup.

  • 1 cup dried black elderberries (or 1½ cups fresh)
  • 1 cup cup of sweetener – I’ve used both raw honey, maple syrup and molasses with good results (honey of course being the non-vegan choice). You can use less sweetner than stated (Eva still likes the taste if that’s a worry), but the syrup will be more liquid.
  • 4 cups water
  • Optional: 1 stick or 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Optional: 3-4 cloves or ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Optional: fresh or 1 tablespoon ground ginger (I like to use a big chunk of fresh cut into pieces)
  • Optional: fresh or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (I like to use one big turmeric root cut into pieces)

How to:

  1. Add water, elderberries and your optionals to a pot and bring it to a boil. 
  2. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer under a lid for about 45 minutes. The liquid should be reduced by about half when it’s done – otherwise just give it a bit more.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and mash the berries with a spoon. Just to get that last bit of juice out of them. 
  4. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a bowl and let it cool. Make sure it big enough to for you to stir in it after adding the sweetener.
  5. Add your sweetner to the mix. Stir until completely dissolved.
  6. Pour the syrup into an airtight container and put it in the fridge. And that’s it. You’re done.

Storage: Store the syrup in the fridge. I’m not sure how long it will keep, but I’m guessing 1 or 2 weeks. Maybe longer, but I would freeze any leftovers after 2 weeks. Just to be on the safe side. You could also choose to add alcohol to the mix as a preservative, but then I wouldn’t give the syrup to children. Otherwise honey works as a preservative as well, but it is of course not vegan if that is a concern.

Dosage: I’m not a doctor, herbalist or similar, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt. As a mean of prevention I take about ½-1 tablespoon per day and give Eva about ½-1 teaspoons worth (I make gummies for her instead). If younger than 2 years old I would probably go with maybe up to 1/2 teaspoon (keep in mind that children under 1 should not be eating honey). I took the same dosis 3- 4 times a day when I was down with a cold and I will do the same with Eva (who is about 2½ years old).

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