Monday, October 10, 2011

Building Your Medicine Chest: Elderberries

Elderberries are held in high esteem in areas all over the world. Known for their outstanding ability to ward off and cure the common cold and/or flu virus, elderberries make some of the most frugally sustainable remedies and should be a part of your medicine chest! Check out this article in Prevention Magazine for more information regarding the medicinal qualities of elderberries.

I want to touch on a couple of issues concerning elderberries prior to moving on with the recipes. There are a few different types of elderberry plants that grow wild throughout North America. It is important that you never consume the red elderberries (due to poisonous toxins) and only consume the blue ones after cooking them.

You may be one of the lucky ones to have the ability to forage for elderberries locally. But for those of us less fortunate, you may be happy to know that the elderberry bush is relatively easy to grow. It is my first recommendation to you, for sustainability purposes, that you plant and grow this perennial on your property. It grows well in moist soils in zones 3-9 and quality seedlings can be purchased on-line from nurseries such as this one.

The next best option is to obtain high-quality dried elderberries from a reputable source. I trust and order frequently from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I want to share with you three different ways to prepare elderberries for administration. If you were to purchase a small, four ounce bottle of elderberry tincture, you better be ready to pay approximately $10-$15! With these recipes you're looking at spending approximately $0.50 per ounce and even less if you have your own elderberry bush! This is a great way to provide for the health of your whole family, without spending tons of money!

Unless otherwise stated, the brain behind these recipes and methods is attributed to Rosemary Gladstar and her amazing book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health

Elderberry Syrup

-1 cup of fresh or 1/2 cup of dried elderberries
-3 cups of water
-1 cup of honey
-2 tablespoons grated ginger (optional as a warming agent but not necessary for effectiveness)

Directions: Place berries, ginger (if using), and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Smash the berries. Then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. Add honey. Bottle syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Use: Child: Administer 1 teaspoon per day for prevention or 1 teaspoon per waking hour at the onset of cold/flu-like symptoms. Adult: Administer on same schedule, however increase dosage to 1 tablespoon.

Note: Not suitable for children under one year of age.

See this very informative video for step by step directions.

Elderberry Glycerin Tincture

-1 cup vegetable glycerin
-1 cup water
-1/2 pound dried elderberries

Directions: In a quart jar place the dried elderberries. Pour the glycerin and water over the berries. Place the lid on the jar and keep in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar at least twice a day for 4-6 weeks (the longer the more potent the solution). Strain the mixture using a cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze all of the liquid out of the berries. Store in an airtight container on the pantry shelf for up to 6 months.

Use: This tincture is safe for all ages. Alcohol is left out of this recipe to be safe for pregnant mamma's and infants. For adults and children: Administer 1 teaspoon daily for prevention and up to 4 teaspoons daily at the first signs of illness.

This recipe based on this post by Nourishing Days.

Elderberry Vodka Tincture

-Dried elderberries enough to fill quart-sized jar 1/3 full or fresh berries to fill jar
-100 proof vodka

Directions: Fill quart-sized jar 1/3 full with dried elderberries (or completely full for fresh). Add enough warm water just to cover dried elderberries (this step not necessary with fresh berries). Fill jar with 100 proof vodka. Place the lid on the jar, label with date, and keep in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar at least twice a day for 3 months. Strain the mixture using a cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze all of the liquid out of the berries. Store in an airtight container on the pantry shelf for up to 2 years.

Use: For adults and older children: Administer 1-2 tablespoons daily for prevention and up to 4 times daily at the first show of cold/flu symptoms. May be administered in a cup of hot warm, sweetened to taste for a more palatable route.

Resources for this recipe may be reviewed here and here.

Elderberries are an easy and frugal source of immunity. My hope is this information will enable you to provide for your family in a very nourishing way.

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Please find this post and a host of others here: Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Growing Home: Teach Me Tuesday, Homestead Barn Hop , Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, Homemaking Link-Up, Simple Lives Thursday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Your Green Resource, Living Well, Fresh Bites Friday, Homemaker Monday, Friday Favorites

The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Cultivating Herbal Friendships


At October 11, 2011 at 9:42 AM , Blogger juliecache said...

Will have to make this next year. Thanks for linking up to the Frugal Tuesday Tip!

At October 11, 2011 at 11:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to try this recipe ! My elderberries arrived from Mtn. Rose Herbs last week. Do you have an elderberry bush ?


At October 11, 2011 at 1:12 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

@RealGranola I had two bushes I planted to late this past spring. They were growing quickly but the AZ heat got them! I am not giving up though:) Planning to plant a few more in cooler areas of the yard this fall. Hopefully they'll be better established prior to next summer.

At October 11, 2011 at 1:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I ask where you got your elderberry bushes ?
Thanks !

At October 11, 2011 at 2:06 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

I really love Gurney's I've ordered several things from them and I have loved them all! Very good quality.

At October 11, 2011 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous Nichole said...

Another plant to add to the list! I love finding new plants that do more than just look pretty! (although I do love flowers)
Thanks :)


At October 11, 2011 at 4:52 PM , Blogger A Heritage From The Lord said...

I just put about 56 cups of wild elderberries in my freezer, and was hoping to find a new recipe to try with them:) Thank you for posting this:)

At October 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM , Anonymous Jill said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. Hope to see you next week! Be sure to visit on Sunday for
Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

At October 12, 2011 at 10:49 PM , Anonymous Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

I have a local herbalist who just gave me some elderberry in her "kick the ick" mix this week when I came down with a sore throat/cold. I think it's also in her cough elixer. I posted about her approach to being a "locavore" herbalist just yesterday.

I'm glad to see you are advocating for sustainable wildcrafting.

At October 12, 2011 at 11:29 PM , Anonymous Katherine Atkinson said...

This is so great! I really hope you'll share it with Wildcrafting Wednesday! I'm sure my readers woudl love it too! :)

~ Kathy

At November 2, 2011 at 9:39 AM , Blogger Debra Herbert said...

Here's something I'm curious about... Would Elderberry Jam like the type you get at a store or make for yourself have any of the same properties? Or is it just basically flavored? (I started to feel somewhat silly asking this till I remembered, the dumb questions are the ones you don't ask!)

At November 18, 2011 at 8:59 PM , Blogger --- said...

Wow thanks! always wondered what else to do with the elder berries growing here. Cheers, Rachael


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