Thursday, August 15, 2013

making elderberry syrup and tincture

Uzi and I have been watching some wild elderberries ripening all summer, and the other day we stopped by and picked a bagful on our way home from swimming. The elderberries in our yard are not quite ripe yet, and probably won't yield a ton this first year. But there are lots of elderberries around town that were ready to go, so that is what we used.

Elderberry syrup is one of our go-to medicines in the fall and winter, so we wanted to make a big batch to last us through the cold months. We had a lot left over, so we also made a big batch of elderberry tincture. The hardest part is just meticulously picking the berries off the stem, but the rest of it is so simple! Just a head's up that the uncooked berries are poisonous, as are the stems and leaves. Also do not use red elderberries, as they are potentially toxic. Also, a reminder that babies under one should not consume honey. One of the recipes I looked at advised if you were giving the syrup to a child under two, to add the syrup to hot water to kill the microbes in the honey first.

The flowers are beautiful and look like little stars, you can through them in a batter or make a tea with them. We still have some berries left over, so once I deal with the 45 pounds of peaches sitting in my garage, I might make an elderberry apple jelly.

Here's the recipe we used for the syrup:

3 cups water
1 cup fresh (blue) elderberries (or 1/2 cup dried)
1 cup honey (we used a local, raw honey)

Separate all the berries from the stems and gently wash. Place berries and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Strain the berries with a super fine mesh strainer (you don't want the seeds in the syrup) and push on the berries to release all the juice. I let cool for a bit and then stirred in the honey. Bottle it up and store in the fridge. We made three batches of this recipe which yielded just about three quarts of syrup (which is a lot!). 

Elderberry tincture:

Separate the berries from the stems and give a gentle wash. Fill up a jar almost all the way with the berries (we used a quart Ball jar and went just about up to the neck) and then squish them up a bit. Uzi wanted to do it, so I poured them into a bowl to make it easier for him and then poured them back in to the jar. Then fill the jar up with alcohol (we used vodka because that's what we had, but you could use brandy) until it covers the berries by about 1-2 inches. Store in a dark place and give it a shake every once in a while. Let sit for 4-6 weeks and then strain the berries and seeds and bottle. 

Here's to a healthy winter! 

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