Saturday, December 26, 2009

My version of Elderberry Cough Syrup

It's really pretty tasty! And I think it's working during this germ-y season... I'll let you know.

I made some elderberry tincture last winter after taking a class by Jim McDonald that turned me on to tincturing, and then finding dehydrated berries for sale at a reliable beer-making supply shop.

Oh! BTW, a little news: Herb just learned this week that he won a third Silver Medal in the 2009 Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, for his locally sourced, homemade (non-commercial) spiced apple wine. It really is good!

Back. Anyway, my tincture seemed nice, but I never really had a need to use it. I seem to be awfully healthy for such a broken down old gal (knocking on wood).
The only elderberries I've been able to find 'growing wild' are so near to roads that I don't trust their safety. This spring I planted a couple of tiny shrubs from the Conservation District in my backyard, but of course they need some time to grow.

Elderberry has been talked about by so many herbalists, especially during the recent season of flu scare, that I thought I'd try my hand at making and using 'it'. Most of the cough syrup recipes I've seen seem similar enough, so I thought I'd do my own riff and let you know how it turned out.

What I did
In a large saucepan combine:
1/2 cup dried elderberries
2 cups hot water
Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, then lower the heat and simmer about an hour, mashing berries occasionally.
(If you used fresh berries, you would only need a little water to keep from burning the berries initially, and you could simmer just long enough to juice the berries, but that's another recipe.)

Keep the lid on while simmering, and don't boil. If you can smell the berries in clouds of steam, then valuable essential nutrients are escaping into the air.
Remember, mash occasionally.

Pour it all into a cheesecloth lined 4-cup measuring cup to strain. Let sit to drain thoroughly.

Squeeze gently and discard berry pulp. (I set it aside to feed to my worm bin.)

Measure liquid and pour back in saucepan. To 1 1/2 cups juice stir in one generous cup of honey, heating briefly to blend well.

Remove from heat. For enhanced keeping quality, stir in 4 oz.* vodka, brandy or tincture.

Here is my innovation: I added that Elderberry tincture that I had made last fall. Double the berry, double the fun!

*By volume 8 + 12= 20 oz. : 20%= 4 oz.

I bottled mine in a quart canning jar with a plastic lid. It's pretty nice syrup - it's be good over ice cream or cake, or for an aperitif or a nightcap.
But to use 'medicinally' in the folk tradition, an adult dose would be a teaspoon a day. But look at the ingredients - a Tablespoon wouldn't hurt either, or stirring a teaspoon into a cuppa tea more often than once a day wouldn't hurt, might help build your resistance to cold and flu.


comfrey cottages said...

i so agree with you betsy! elderberry is so good so many ways:) use it freely is my motto:) there are herbs out there that must be used in moderation, but i don't believe elderberry is one. your recipe sounds delicious:)

Anonymous said...

Nice article you got here. I'd like to read more concerning that theme. Thanks for giving that info.

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practise anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)