I’ve had a terrible cold/flu this month. I like to call it the creeping crud!! It started in my nose blocking my sinuses so I couldn’t breathe, crept down to my throat making my tonsils swell and my voice hoarse, then back up again to infect my sinuses again. Now I’ve got sinus pain and post nasal drip that is making me cough incessantly. I never really got serious about treating it herbally, always thinking that it wasn’t going to be bad and that it would be gone in a day or two. Boy, I really wish I had zapped it at the beginning!
At this late stage, I decided to make some elder berry syrup to sooth my cough and give myself an herb that purportedly fights off the flu. It is a relatively quick remedy to prepare, and it might help.
I found several recipes (a couple listed at the bottom of this post), and I used the simplest one. (Hey, the way I feel I don’t feel like doing much here!). All the recipes called for fresh berries, but I only had dry, so that’s what I used. I poured about 2 cups of dried berries in a pan, covered them with water (actually a little more than covered, I wanted to add extra water since they were dry to account for the extra liquid they would absorb). Then I simmered them for over an hour on low heat, strained out the red liquid that resulted, and then mixed the liquid 1/2 and 1/2 with honey.
I took a couple of spoonfuls right away to sample it. It tastes delicious!! But my favorite way to enjoy it is to pour a little of the syrup into a cup with some boiling water and drink it as a hot tea. It is very soothing to my sore throat and calms my cough. As I said, it tastes really good, too. Very gentle. I did feel immediately better every time I drank a cup, but this is one nasty flu, so repeats were needed frequently.
Overall, I think it would have been better if I had soaked the dry berries for a while, until they plumped up more, before starting to simmer them. I think my brew was a little weak for not doing that. Next time I will definitely make it stronger.
Elder berry syrup recipes
You can pick berries fresh off the bush if you have any and they are in season. Otherwise, you can order dried berries.
Dried berries should be soaked in water until they plump up before cooking. The finished syrup should be kept in the refrigerator and will last about a month. Take one or two spoonfuls as needed, or use 1/4 cup with boiling water to make hot tea.
Place elder berries in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour or more until liquid is reduced by 1/2. Strain and mix in an equal amount of honey (raw honey, if possible).
Use 1/2 quart dry elderberries and 1 quart raw honey. Place berries in jar and cover with honey. Cap and let sit in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks, turning occasionally.
Use 1 cup elder berries, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer until it is reduced by 1/2. Cool strain and bottle.