Saturday, August 14, 2010

elderberry syrup

More good things! It's time to harvest elderberries. We are so blessed- and I mean ridiculously blessed to have free access to this treasure. We have many elder trees all around our home and even more on the lonely country roads around Floyd. We watched these blossom in June and had to exhibit restraint from harvesting the elder blossoms then. They make a wonderful tea, and have several benefits. But for those who wait- there comes the berry. (I have copied some information about the benefits of the elderberry at the very bottom.)

So, the other day we harvested as many berries as we could. For those of you who aren't ready to abandon your respective city-fied lives- fear not. Get thee to your nearest Whole Foods or local overpriced tiny health food store and buy the dried elderberries. (or look online). This is an excellent, and quite necessary addition to your medicine chest. And it's honestly super-easy.

So here's how it went down...

Pick the branches, drooping heavily with delicious dark, ripe berries. (But do not eat raw).
Admire the loveliness.
Admire the loveliness even more.
Set the family to work. (And admire the lovely tomato bounty in the background!) :)
Get your lovely niece to sit and pick and talk.
My children, though often "wild" were so fastidious with this chore.

De-stemming the berries is a bit tedious, but fortunately, I have many hands and helpers and the job was done quite fast.
We picked only the darkest black and purple berries, trying to separate the green and red unripe berries as well as the overripe and stony berries.
Many hands make light work. :) Especially if you really love all the many hands.
That's Blair's hand, not mine- for those of you who were momentarily confused, and perhaps concerned.

While we have several cups, I am freezing most of it only making small batches at a time. Without a preservative (alcohol), the syrup won't be at it's most benefical for more than a few weeks in the fridge. So my plan is to make a batch with alcohol (which will last about a year) and also to make smaller batches every month or so.

So for the following recipe, I am using one cup of fresh elderberries.... (if using dried berries, use a half a cup)
Cover with two cups of fresh mountain water.
Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour...
Pause to look down next to you and smile at your breathtakingly adorable baby who is hard at work in his own little kitchen....
Remove berries from stove and pour through strainer.
Press/mash thoroughly to squeeze out every last drop of heavenly goodness. A potato masher would have been much better, but who has that when you need it? Forks can come in handy for an astonishing number of things in life- not the least of which, mashing elderberries.
Pour one cup of honey into a jar. In our case, we are so fortunate to have a local supply of honey. So local, in fact, that it often comes from the bees in our "own" fields. Please be sure to wipe off any excess drips down the side of the jar and thoroughly lick your fingers. (very important step)

Pour the strained elderberry juice over the honey into the jar.
Cover. Shake. Pause and give thanks for health, goodness, and provision from God for both.

Here's to health! And a fruitful August.

Latin Name:

Sambucus nigra

Common Names:
Elderberry, Black Elderberry, North American Elderberry

antioxidant, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory

Immune system boost, coughs, colds, flu, bacterial infections, viral infections, tonsilitis, lower cholesterol, improved vision and heart health.

Indicated for:
Cancer, HIV, asthma and bronchitis, reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.

Infusions of the fruit are said to be beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.


  1. That is so cool Katie! It made me want to eat some after I read all of that. You should sell them online, I'de buy a couple jars ;)

  2. I love how you write, made me laugh!
    We have been drinking ours a lot over ice mixed with half water, yummy.. Just in case you have loads. I made a huge batch of tincture as well, and will pick more in the next couple of days, happy to sense you in good spirit!!!