Immune Boosting Spiced Elderberry Syrup-Deliciously Fight Cold & Flu

Crunchy Parent Spiced Elderberry Syrup picture
Photo credit: cobaltfish via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Goodness, I’ve missed being around. In addition to the gremlin infestation, we seem to have gotten caught up in an endless cycle of illness around here. It reminds me of the importance of warm clothing, adequate sleep, and nutritious food even in the midst of holidays, schedule changes, and celebrations. I’ve been searching for other ways to fortify our health. One of my preferred ways at the moment is a delicious spiced elderberry syrup.

**As a reminder I am not a doctor and you should seek advice from your own health practitioner before changing your health regimen.**

Elderberries get a lot of attention for their immune-boosting properties. The elder flowers are also excellent for supporting the immune system, so I use a blend of both in this syrup. However, if you only have the berries on-hand you can use a cup of berries and skip the flowers.

A blend of cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and ginger all lend a delicious spiced flavor to the syrup. In addition, many of these herbs and spices are warming and drying, which can be helpful if there is an illness that causes chills and runny, congested gunk. Ginger is also beloved for its anti-viral and anti-nausea properties which can come in very handy when fighting a bug. Star anise is anti-viral and anti-bacterial as well as being an antioxidant-packed expectorant.

Echinacea an osha root are both included as optional ingredients. Echinacea is popular as an immune-booster, but there are some differing opinions as to whether echinacea is appropriate for longer-term preventative use, or is if should be reserved for acute illness only. Accordingly, you may want to include the echinacea if you plan to use the syrup during illness only, and skip it if you want to use the syrup preventatively.

Osha has an affiliation for the lungs. It has historically been used for respiratory illness, especially in Native American medicinal tradition. Osha root has suffered losses more recently due to over harvesting and is really not commercially available. If you happen to be fortunate enough to have access to osha root through mindful and sustainable wild harvesting, a small piece of osha root can be a nice addition to this syrup.

The directions for making the syrup are pretty straightforward, and I like the almost instant-gratification of the process. It seems that the first colds of the season always catch me off guard; before I have had the proper time to steep a tincture or elixir. This syrup can be made and used the same day when I sense that it is needed.

Please use my photos as illustrations of the steps in the process. Pay no mind to the quantities shown. I took some of the photos when I was making small, experimental batches and others when I was making large batches of the favorite recipe.

Spiced Elder Syrup (yield approximately 3 cups)
All plant materials used are dried unless otherwise specified. I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs or Frontier Co-Op as resources for dried organic herbs (learn more about establishing a Frontier wholesale buying club here).

Herbs and spices awaiting their big moment.

Herbs and spices awaiting their big moment.

Ingredients:
1 qt. water
3/4 c. elderberries
1/4 c. elder flowers
10 cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
4 whole star anise “stars”
2 cinnamon sticks
1” chunk of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 T. echinacea (optional)
2” piece of osha root (optional)
1 c. honey, raw and organic preferred

Instructions:

1. Place water and herbs into a sauce pan and bring to boil over medium heat.

Crunchy Parent spiced elder syrup herbs in pot 1-12-2016

2. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until liquid is reduced by approximately half and syrup is slightly thickened.

Crunchy Parent spiced elder syrup simmering 1-12-2015

3. Strain the liquid from the spent herbs into a glass jar, being sure to press the herbs to extract the most liquid. A nut milk bag, jelly bag, or fine mesh sieve can be helpful for this step.

crunchy parent spiced elder syrup strain 1-12-2016

pressing herbs in sieve to extract elderberry syrup

4. Allow the liquid to cool to approximately 105 degrees fahrenheit and add the honey, stirring gently to dissolve. Tip: this is a great way to use raw honey that has become more solid and grainy over time as it will dissolve well in the liquid.

IMG_3541

5. Cover, date, and label syrup. Store in refrigerator.

We enjoy this syrup during times of illness or preventatively. I take a Tablespoon every day when there seems to be some illness brewing in the house, or 2-3 times per day if I am feeling under the weather myself. So far the kids have refused to take it, but if they were willing, I’d say a teaspoon dose for them. It tastes delicious, and I could probably add it to a chai tea without the kids noticing, but I haven’t attempted that yet.

The syrup requires refrigeration. I have found it has lasted for at least a month or so. I usually have used it up by then.

I hope that you enjoy the syrup and lots of good health. What are some ways that you support you health during the cold, dark days of winter?

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