Thursday, October 29, 2009

Elderberry syrup

The elder tree was used to ward off evil influences and protect you from witches, according to folklore in many countries. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.

And speaking of elderberries, elderberry syrup is an excellent remedy for the flu. It contains flavonoids and anthocyanins that have been shown in scientific studies to stimulate the immune system and have anti-inflammatory qualities (say goodbye to those aches and pains).

However, only the extract is shown to have these qualities, so don't really expect some jam on your toast to keep the flu at bay. Black elderberry extract can be given to both children and adults without any known side effects or negative interactions.

The syrup is easy to make, and once it's done I would store it in a clean, glass jar in your fridge. The recipe has a lot of sugar in it, so it will stay good for a very long time.

Dosage: 1 teaspoon–1 tablespoon (5–15 ml) for children, 2 teaspoons–2 tablespoons (10–30 ml) for adults) can be taken twice daily.

Note: Elderberries ARE POISONOUS until they have been cooked. Black elderberries should be used for the extract and they shouldn't be eaten raw. The toxin is located in a coating that surrounds the seed on the inside of the berry. When you cook the berries, the mashing and heat helps to release this toxic coating. This means that a thin layer of goop will line your pan after you cook the berries, you can either use a pan you've been meaning to throw away (though I don't advocate that) or you can use a little kerosene to clean it up. And you were thinking those raw berries looked tasty...

Also, this stuff STAINS so if you don't want it to get stained, to wear/use it.

A 5-gallon bucket that is between half-full (at least) and 3/4-full of shucked black elderberries (berries that have already been removed from the stems). You will have an overflowing bucket if the berries haven't been picked off the stems yet.

1-1/2 to 2 c. sugar (depends on if you half half a bucket or 3/4 of one)

1/2 c. water and NO MORE.

2 juicy lemons


A potato masher

A long-handled spoon (wooden is best)

A pan that you don't mind ruining, throwing away, or using a lot of elbow grease on to get clean.

Place all the berries in a large pot (a stockpot works good) with a half cup of water and bring to a boil.

Slowly stir in the sugar and reduce heat to a nice simmer. Use the potato masher to squash up all the berries until they're nice and mushy. Get it a good squashing and stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Let cook for at least an hour or until reduced (the syrup will completely coat the back of the spoon).

When the berries are done, give them a good final mashing. At this point you can squeeze in the juice of two lemons (this is a very important step, it cuts the bitterness of the berries and makes the syrup palatable).

Strain the syrup through the cheesecloth into a large, clean, glass jug (I use a tea pitcher). It will make a lot of syrup. Store in the fridge and take daily!

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