Elderberry Syrup & Elderbears
Berries from the Elder (Sambucus Nigra) have been used for centuries in wellness preparations. Its use dates back as far as 400 BC, where the “Father of Medicine” Hippocrates referred to elder as a “medicine chest.” Elderberry indeed makes some tasty medicine! They are used to make jams, pies, teas, wine, cordials, tinctures, and increasingly popular syrup. You can also make them in yummy and wise Elderbear gummies!
Elderberry syrup and supplements have become increasingly common and prescribed by doctors in the past few years. This delicious syrup is an indispensable part of your wellness routine as cold and flu season approaches. It is also easy and inexpensive to make yourself at home. I will say the spiced and fruity aroma of elderberry syrup simmering on the stovetop is a true delight. To me, the scent feels like the bearer of fall tidings.
As the days start to cool, this syrup helps our immune system adjust to seasonal changes. Elderberry helps fortify our immune system when we are well and comes to our aid to help speed up recovery when are sick. So how is this little berry so full of goodness? The beautiful deep color of these berries is actually a clue to its power. Elderberries’ rich color comes from anthocyanin, a phytonutrient rich in antioxidants that also acts as a pigment. Elderberries are not only chock full of antioxidants, but also high in vitamin A, B and C.
I love taking a daily spoonful of syrup, but my children prefer when I magically turn the syrup into Elderbears (see below).
3/4 cup dried elderberries or 1.5 cups fresh berries
4 cups filtered water (or 2 cups if using fresh berries)
1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1-2 tbsp grated fresh ginger or 1-2 tsp ground ginger
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup raw honey (or vegan sweetener of choice)
In a medium pot, simmer water, elderberries, cinnamon, cloves and ginger for half hour. Let cool. Strain the liquid into a measuring cup or spouted bowl. Add lemon juice and honey or maple syrup. Stir and bottle. Should keep fresh in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
I like to take 1 tablespoon daily in the fall and winter, but you can also take more and take it year round. At onset of a cold or while you are sick, you can take elderberry syrup 3-4 times per day. I also like to add the syrup to hot water to make a delicious, immune boosting tea!
Elderberries should not be eaten raw, but are safe to eat once cooked. The branches and leaves of elderberry are not safe for consumption, so make sure to only use berries.
If you are using fresh elderberries in this recipe, it can be quite messy. Take care to remove berries from the stem and wear an apron you don’t mind getting stained.
Yield: Approximately 150 gummies
I use agar agar powder to make this transformation happen. Agar agar is a jellylike substance extracted from red algae. When powdered and added to liquids it help them gel. You will need to use gummy molds to make these bears. I’ve found most standard gummy molds fit 50 gummies, so have three on hand.
1 cup elderberry syrup
1 tbsp agar agar powder
1 tbsp honey (or vegan sweetener of choice)
½ juice lemon
Heat one cup of syrup in a small saucepan. Add 1 tbsp agar agar powder. Add 1 tbsp honey or vegan sweetener stir until dissolved and starts to gel. Remove from heat and stir in juice of 1/2 lemon. Using eyedropper to fill gummy molds. You can reheat mixture if solidifies before you finish filling. Put molds in fridge for at least 3-4 hours or let them gel on countertop. Pull out the molds and pop out the gummies. Put them in an airtight jar and store in fridge.
Take 2-3 gummies per day or increase amount during onset of cold or flu through the duration of sickness.