It's coming up on that time of year again, and for us, that means it's time to heat up the kitchen and make some magic happen. One of my most favorite things to make every year is a supply of Elderberry Syrup to get us through cold and flu season. For those of you for whom the kitchen is not your favorite place to be, don't bail out on me yet because this recipe is easy peasy and it takes very little time, not to mention, you would spend far more time feeling crummy when the flu hits if you don't have this magic elixir on hand. Let me first give you a little information on what Elderberry Syrup is, and how it helps. Tune in Tokyo because I'm giving you the goods right here and it's already September. I think we can all agree that our immune system is very important, and as being solely responsible for fighting off infections, we need to treat it accordingly by doing what we can, to make it a powerhouse for our system. While the clinical trials are in short supply on how elderberry syrup fights the flu and builds the immune system, I'm a believer. The roots and I use it every year and while one of us has had the dreaded flu one time in the last 5 years, it happened to be the year that we weren't using Elderberry as an immune booster ahead of time. There have been reports that have shown how Elderberry actually works on the immune system to help it stay in tip top shape. For starters, it enhances Cytokine production. What the hell is that you ask? Cytokines are the proteins that are responsible for the immune system's response to disease and infection. Several studies indicate that elderberry extracts may help to activate the immune system by increasing inflammatory Cytokine production. Next up, Elderberries are packed with antioxidant flavonoids. Flavonoids are chemical compounds often found in leafy greens and all that Kale that the experts say you should eat, except when compared to kale, elderberry syrup is your heavy hitter with the bases loaded kind of good. Anyway, back to flavonoids. Basically, flavonoids fight off allergens and pathogens and help fight free radicals from damaging all the beneficial cells in your body. For some reason the fighting of free radicals makes me feel like I've been arrested at a "damn the man" rally, but I have to stay focused so I can continue to bring the wellness to the people. Lastly, we have viral suppression. Some studies have shown the Elderberry to have the ability to block out infection by actually stopping viruses from making their way through the body. Here is your real Ghostbusters circa 1984 moment for ya. The author of one particular study says that the elderberry extract somehow coats the exterior of the virus, rendering it powerless. The unfortunate truth about all of this is that there is limited funding for proper studies for reasons that will have to wait for another post on another day. For now, I will move on to the recipe for Elderberry Syrup. Keep in mind that it isn't an exact science and sometimes I will add extra this or that, but the Elderberry is the hero here so make sure that you stay true to that part. I doubled my typical recipe because I have an extra root this year that will be partaking, and last year we ran out. I will let you be the judge on whether you want to double it.
- 4 cups of cold water
- 2 cups of elderberries
- 1-2 Ceylon Cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tsp fresh grated organic ginger
- Raw local honey 8-12 ounces depending on your taste
- 4 Star Anise
- 1 vanilla bean (if you are feeling fancy)
Combine all of your ingredients EXCEPT your honey. Bring your mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mash your berries in the mixture. Strain the berries and herbs through a cheesecloth into whatever type of prepared container you choose, and squeeze out the juice. I used a 1-gallon glass jar compliments of my local mom and pop store (Brazier's One Stop), and afterward, I scooped all of my berries into what my partner in crime for the day, Marian, called a potato ricer. For those who may think I am some sort of domestic genius (looking for raised hands), I truly had no idea what the hell it was, but my sweet gal from Gallahar gave it to me and it worked like a charm allowing me to extract every last drop. Wait about 15 minutes and then add your honey, stirring until it's completely dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature and then store it in whatever way you see fit. Freeze it in ice cube trays or pressure can it if you like, but make sure you keep enough on hand in your fridge to start dosing up. It will keep in your fridge for several months. Some people say they take a tablespoon a day through the week and skip the weekend, but I use this stuff on bagels, waffles, and even ice cream, so I would venture to say that a daily dose would be just fine. If you die, it isn't my fault by the way. I'm not a doctor or a scientist. I'm just a person who reads A LOT and spends lots of money in overdue book fees. It's called free will people! Now its' time to share where I get my wonderful ingredients. This season, I have been using elderberries from The Frugal Shaman. I absolutely love his Etsy shop and he is super helpful if you have any questions. He offers organic and wild harvest varieties of elderberry and will be more than happy to help you decide which works best for you. Also this year, I decided to switch it up a bit on the cinnamon sticks. After doing some extensive research on the Ceylon variety, I hopped on over to SLOFOOD Group and picked up some amazing Ceylon cinnamon sticks and also a vanilla bean to add to the flavor profile of my syrup (I was feeling fancy). Shawn is very helpful and knows his spices He's not hard on the eyes either, but don't tell the man root I said so. There are several differences in the "fake" cinnamon you buy in the store which is called Cassia, and they "real" cinnamon which you have to hunt for or order online and is not carried in most big box retail grocery chains. Cassia cinnamon contains a very high concentration of Coumarin. Coumarin is a flavoring substance that over prolonged periods of time or daily use can cause liver and kidney damage among other things. My advice is to head over to SLOFOOD Group and get the real deal because if you are preparing a recipe to help you stay healthy, don't waste your time making yourself sick in the process. Right? Now go get your stuff and get to cooking. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.