I almost didn't do it.
And then I said to myself, “Self, quit being lazy. You found two hours to watch Parks and Recreation re-runs last week, and thus, you have plenty of time to do this.” It's amazing the mind games we play with ourselves. Ten minutes to shave my legs? Nearly impossible. Two hours to run errands that I could have easily consolidated into twenty minutes with proper planning? Yup, that's me.
So I gave in to my lazy self and I made it, knowing that in the frigid chill of winter I would be glad. And surely, I will be.
When our family came down with the plague a few years ago, we bought a bottle of this natural cold remedy at the health food store. For $17 dollars. Now, I may be a natural(esk) snob….but even I have my boundaries. And $17 for a bottle of cold medicine was that boundary. And therefore, my friends, monetary necessity has driven me to make my own. And besides the cost of the honey, it's pretty much free.
So what are elderberries and why should we consume them?
Elderberries look like this:
Clusters of blueish berries.
Don't eat the red ones, they are toxic! And don't eat the blue ones raw, they are toxic too! The berries must be cooked. Just FYI. Don't worry, I've got your back. You're welcome.
– Is antiviral
– Shortens the duration of the flu
– Reduces the severity of the flu (runny nose, sore throat, muscle pain, fever)
– Reduces inflammation
– Is rich in antioxidants
– Acts as a very mild laxative (that is a yucky word to write in a blog)
– Helps to lower cholesterol
– Is an all-around immune booster!
I wanted to make my own last year, but I missed the harvest window by about a month. Dang. When those beautiful ‘ol berry clusters made their appearance all around our valley this last month, I knew I had to seize the day. Which I did. This syrup was extremely easy to make and is wonderfully delicious.
Step One: Wash 4 cups of fresh elderberries from a local bush or 2 cups of dehydrated berries. Combine the berries with 8 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer the berries for 45 minutes.
Use a bigger pan than this. Notice I said, use a ‘large pot'. I am a brainfart, and thus, chose this pan. Great idea.
Step Two: Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then strain the berries and branches out with a fine, mesh strainer. Be sure to smoosh all the goodness out of those berries!
Step Three: Stir in 2 cups of raw honey.
Step Four: Bottle. Refrigerate. Consume.
As a preventative measure, herbalists recommend taking 1-2 tablespoons per day. Be it over oatmeal, fruit, or pancakes. Or heck, just take a shot of it. It's good for ya. And it's delicious. Booya.
I'm so excited to have these bottles stocked in the fridge! We will begin consuming our daily dose this month in hopes of preventing the ‘ol winter plague that is inevitable when one is breathing stale air for 23 hours a day.
Also, if you've happened upon an elderberry bush, clip some extras off! These berries freeze wonderfully! I've frozen a few gallon bags so that I can replenish our supply once the current syrup runs low.
I'm thinking about mixing up some of my extra elderberries into elderberry jelly…has anyone tried this? Any good recipes out there?
I have one more month of ambition to get all these fun projects and/or cooking projects completed. Because once the middle of October hits…this homesteader is not doing anything but laundry for six months.
And that's if-fy.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.