Although at heart I am a summertime girl I could not live without the changing of the seasons. This time of year is absolutely gorgeous in Michigan. The crisp fall air feels so refreshing after the long hot summer we have had. The trees are starting to turn vibrant colors (this one in our front yard is turning yellow and orange) and visiting cider mills with warm doughnuts and hot cider are normal weekend activities.
The one thing I can do without this time of year is all the sick germs floating around. It is the beginning of cold and flu season, YUCK! One of the ways to protect my family from colds and flu is to give them a little homemade elderberry syrup every morning. I mix it with a little bit of fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin butter blend to boost the immune building potential and keep them healthy all season long. This is my version of the flu shot, and I can proudly say that we have not had a round of the flu in our house for years. I’m not saying we don’t get sick, but we don’t get the flu. It’s normally mild illness including low grade fevers, stuffy noses and congestion. That stuff I can live with and I have other methods for dealing with that, which I will share in another post.
Anyway, back to the elderberry syrup. Elderberries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They have been shown to reduce the duration of the flu by 3 days which is even better than those Tamiflu packages prescribed by doctors. They also have been shown to reduce congestion, improve respiratory health, and help manage seasonal allergies. Also, this is what Hershel used to cure everyone from the virus that was going around in the prison (Walking Dead fans you got that one, right?) SIGN ME UP!
Important note!! Raw/unripe elderberry is unsafe for consumption as it can be poisonous. Please safely source your elderberries!! I buy organic elderberries from Amazon. They are affordable and a 1 lb bag will probably last me all season (unless I am making batches for friends too). Also, by making my own I know exactly what my family is getting. This is a very easy recipe to make and I normally get about 4 cups of syrup out of one batch.
This recipe calls for 1 cup of raw honey which boosts the effectiveness of this syrup (please note – do not give honey to children under the age of 12 months). There are many health benefits of raw honey, some of them being that honey is antibacterial, antifungal, contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Heating the honey will reduce the benefits so it’s important to add this to the syrup when it has cooled but is still warm enough so that it melts and incorporates with the syrup. I have been using this tried and true recipe for years and originally found it on Wellness Mama’s beautiful site here.
To make this recipe simply put 3 ½ cups filtered water in a saucepan. Add 2/3 cup of your elderberries, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons fresh peeled and chopped ginger, and a couple cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Strain through using a small strainer with a layer of cheesecloth over it into a quart sized glass jar. Let cool until it is just barely warm. Add 1 cup of good quality raw honey and stir to incorporate and then store in the fridge. I normally take about 1 tablespoon a day and give my kids 1-2 teaspoons a day. We only use this during the fall and winter months and take the summers off. But if a summertime illness hit, it doesn’t take long to whip up a batch!
2/3 cup Elderberries (responsibly sourced-get them here)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and chopped ginger
4 whole cloves or a pinch of grated clove
3 ½ cups filtered water
1 cup raw honey (local if possible – not suitable for children under 12 months old)
Mix everything in a saucepan except the honey and put on the stove over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about an hour. Strain into a mason jar and allow to cool until barely warm. Stir in the honey and keep in the fridge. I hope you all stay flu free all season!
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