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The Kitchen Herbalist: DIY Elderberry Syrup

You know the scene. It’s 4 a.m. You wake up, chilled and feverish. In denial, you toss and turn, hoping that you haven’t caught that cold going around the office. Instead of ignoring the symptoms, reach for this homemade elderberry elixir.

Medical research has shown that taking an elderberry-based tincture within the first 48 hours of a virus’ onset can shorten the duration of symptoms by as much as four days.

Keep a stockpile of this syrup on hand for whenever illness strikes. It tastes way better than the cherry-flavored stuff, it’s all natural, and in under an hour you can make a batch large enough to keep you and your family healthy all winter long.

Or if you’re too sick to make a bottle, there are store-bought versions like Urban Moonshine’s Herbal Immune Zoom that are quite nice, too.

DIY Elderberry Elixir

Makes 1 quart

1 cups dry or fresh elderberries**
2 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cup 40 percent alcohol
1 cup raw local honey
1 quart size canning jar
Small bottles for dispensing

1. In a large saucepan, combine the water, elderberries, ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer for 20 minutes. Press and strain elderberry-ginger mixture into a quart-size canning jar. Stir in 1 cup honey and 1 cup alcohol to preserve the mixture. Shake well to mix. Divide into smaller containers, if you like. The elderberry elixir will keep in the refrigerator for 6 months.

2. At the first signs of a cold or flu, take 2 tablespoons of elderberry every hour for up to 5 days.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is abundant across North American, and its berries can be foraged from the wild across much of the United States. No time for foraging? Order dry elderberries online from reputable herbal sources like Mountain Rose Herbs, or choose to buy local from an herbalist in your area.

Want to wildcraft your own berries? Order my newest book, “Midwest Medicinal Plants” to learn how to ID and wildcraft the plant yourself!

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