As I am sitting here typing this recipe up, I have a pot of this syrup simmering behind me. The smell is INTOXICATING. It smells akin to something your mom would have simmering over the stove at Christmas time, mulled wine maybe?
I have had a bag of dried elderberries in my cupboard since the summer, waiting patiently to be tuned into something delicious. I was planning on posting an elderberry syrup boozy cocktail in the summer, but I figured I would wait until cold/flu season hit to share this berries special powers.
Elderberries (or more properly known as Sambucus nigra) have a long history of use in folk medicine to ward off symptoms of the common cold and flu. These berries are high in vitamins A, C and bioflavonoids, giving them a strong antioxidant activity. Elderberry's use as a diaphoretic (sweat inducing) has been reported to improve the associated symptoms and decrease the length of the flu. An oncology lab in Isreal has noted that elderberries stimulate the bodies immune system, and they have been treating patients with cancer and HIV AIDS with them. Further, a German research institute has found that the anthocyanins found in elderberries enhance the bodies immune system by stimulating the production of cytokines. These cytokines are protein messengers that modulate and regulate immunity, thus helping to defend the body from disease.
This syrup uses a full cup of these immune-loving berries, plus two other warming herbs: cinnamon and ginger, making it the perfect syrup to mix with hot water and sip on a cold night.
DIY Immune Boost'n Elderberry Syrup Recipe
1 cup dried elderberry berries (can be found at many health food stores)
4 cups water
1 inch ginger (sliced into 4 pieces)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup honey (un-pasteurized is best)
Combine elderberries, water, ginger and cinnamon (everything but the honey) in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 35-45 mins. Remove from heat and strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Let cool for about 15 minutes before adding honey. Store in an air tight jar or container for up to 4 weeks in the fridge
Simply enjoy by the spoonful once a day, or combine 2 TBSP of syrup with hot water to make an elderberry tea. This is also delicious drizzled over pancakes or yogurt!