Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Make it From Scratch Week, Day 2: Deluxe Elderberry Syrup

 For today's Make it From Scratch project, I made a fresh batch of elderberry syrup.  I love using homemade elderberry syrup as a preventative measure/natural remedy for colds and other illnesses through the winter months, especially.  We were almost completely out of the syrup I made last year, so it was time to make a new batch.

Last year we were thrilled to discover a bunch of elderberry bushes growing wild on our property.  We had also bought two bushes (before we found the wild ones).  The chickens ate all the berries off the ones we planted, but they left the others alone, probably because most of the berries were too high for them to reach. :)  We have picked tons of them this summer, enough to give a few bags away and still have plenty left over for ourselves!  In fact, this batch I just made was from last year's berries that were still in the freezer!

In the past I have used this recipe from Deep Roots at Home for my syrup.  It's super easy and very effective!  This time I had happened across some other recipes at Gwen's Nest, and decided to try the "deluxe" version, since I had both nettle and astragalus root on hand.  I used about 2+ cups of berries, 1/2 cup of nettle and 1/2 cup of astragalus root, and 6 cups of water.  I brought it to a boil:
 Then reduced the heat and simmered it for a long time (around an hour or a little more, I think) till the liquid was reduced quite a bit.  After it cooled, I used a pastry blender to moosh up the berries.  I could have also used a potato masher, but mine was dirty and I was too lazy to wash it right then . . . but pretty much any tool that's good for mashing/breaking things up will work . . . you just want to get lots of juice out of the berries. :)
 Next I put them through a paper-towel lined thin kitchen towel over a strainer.  I squeezed as much juice as possible out of the towel, then my handy hubby made me a wooden press and clamped it together to get even more juice out.  It worked great . . . too great, actually.  It squeezed a hole in the towel.  Oops.  It probably wasn't worth the extra work for the teaspoon or so of additional juice that we got!
 I ended up with about 2 cups of juice.  I mixed in about a cup of raw honey (I am blessed to have a local source of raw honey as my neighbor friend keeps bees!!), 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, and the juice of 1 lemon (supposed to be 2 lemons, but I only had 1 on hand).  I gave it a good mix with a whisk till all the honey was incorporated . . .
 And, ta-da!  Homemade deluxe elderberry syrup, all ready and waiting to fend off colds and viruses all winter long. :)  I ended up with about a quart of syrup.  Half went into a pint jar and then I half-filled two other jars and stashed them in the freezer.  The syrup can ferment/mold if you don't use it up fast enough, so I like storing some in the freezer to make sure it doesn't go bad.
We take several teaspoons of this syrup daily when we feel cold symptoms coming on, or when we've been exposed to sickness . . . or it also works well to take a teaspoon every day during the winter as a preventative measure!  (Just remember not to give it to babies under a year old because of the honey.)  It's really good stuff.  Last winter we were healthy from late November till early June and I truly believe this syrup had a big part in that!  So what are you waiting for?  Go find some berries and honey and make some syrup. :)  (And if you're local, let me know if you'd like any berries--we still have a few extra!  Otherwise you can buy dried ones online, or see if anyone in your area may have some to share.)


Kay @Kays Little Korner said...

Could I do this basic thing with blueberries? We have tons of them wild up here in Alaska.

Tammy said...

I need to make up a batch, as my daughter has a cold. :( I don't know how well she'd like the additional ingredients though. I do have nettles, maybe I'll add in some of that.

Carrie said...

Kay--I think you could probably do the same thing with blueberries, it just wouldn't have the same health benefits as with the elderberries (but blueberries have good benefits of their own!). And if you use raw honey, that would also have tons of health benefits . . .

Carrie said...

Tammy--the extra ingredients (esp. the lemon juice and ACV) definitely give it a different tang. My 5 yr. old took some last night without complaint, but I haven't tried it on the older kids yet. :) I don't think the nettles add much of a different flavor, so maybe you could just use those and skip the lemon and ACV. I liked the idea of an extra vitamin C boost and the benefits the ACV would provide, but I think the syrup is extremely effective without them, too. It worked great for us last year, with just berries and honey. :)

Melanie Young said...

Love, love, love elderberries. Our son came back from England with elderberry cordial/syrup and mixed it with orange juice and sparkling water for a wonderful treat. Wish we had a bunch on our property!

BTW, we are getting ready to launch our new book, My Beloved and My Friend: How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses. You did such a great job reviewing Raising Real Men, I was wondering if you'd like to review this one? Here's more info: http://raisingrealmen.com/marriagebook

Much love,
Melanie Young

Carrie said...

Hi Melanie, so nice to hear from you! I would definitely be interested in reviewing your new book!!! Sounds wonderful. Do you give out review copies or would I need to buy it?

I so enjoyed Raising Real Men, in fact I want to go back and read it again soon and have my husband read it, too. I can honestly say it's one of the best books I've read about raising boys. :) Thanks for touching others' lives with your writing and speaking! God bless!