Now is the time to go out and gather as many of these potent, juicy anti-virals as you can. You can dry them, freeze them, or make medicine with them right away. I am doing all of the above – I have dried a few cups to use in teas on cold days or crush into honey for sore throats.
I have just made some Elderberry Winter Tonic, and I will continue to gather and freeze as long I keep seeing them, since I can store them in the freezer and make more medicine or add them to fresh juices in the winter, keeping up my family’s immunity.
The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that can boost your immune system. They could help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too.
Elder is the queen of herbs and is always planted as the central therapeutic plant in traditional herb gardens, as well as in boundary corners of large properties. There is said to be strong spiritual energy around a small grove of Elder. This 'Elder-tree-mother' is most protective of her grove, yet with the proper respect, will pass on to the herbalist the more magical of her attributes.
She is sacred to the gypsies who will not burn it as wood in their fires; they declare that a tree which can help all the ailments of mankind and can restore sight to the blind is too precious to burn.
Gather the black, ripe berries after the morning dew has dried. Look for clusters of black berries on red stems to ensure that they are fully ripe. You can dry some for winter use also - mixed into honey for sore throats or made into fresh syrup. I place the berries on a tray in our hot water cupboard (which is often more filled with drying herbs and tinctures than towels!) to dry slowly.
To make the syrup, gently remove the berries from the stalks. Pull out as many small bits of stem as you can, but don’t get too obsessive about it. The stems, leaves, and unripe berries can cause digestive unrest if over consumed.
Tonic Syrup Ingredients:
Place berries in a pot, add water, ginger, cinnamon and sugar.
Bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, then allow to cool.
Strain the liquid from the berries using a sieve, pressing on with a wooden spoon to get all of the juice out.
Add raw honey – local, if possible for the best health benefits – to the elderberry liquid. Stir until well mixed, and decant into jars or bottles
Take a teaspoonful daily during cold and flu season, or use it in delicious ways: as a pancake syrup, mixed into yogurt, as a drink mixer… There are so many ways to enjoy it, so even if you never get sick, it’s a fun thing to have on hand!
And one more thing… it’s delicious! Our kids will eagily take their elderberry tonic without complaints. Our youngest daughter asks for it if she feels a little unwell!
And we're teaching our daughters how to make these wonderful remedies, so it's never lost.
Posted: Tuesday 20 April 2021