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Elderberry Syrup

September 8, 2009
Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup

According to my book, National Geographic’s Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine*, European elder, aka black elder and common elder, used to be considered a cure-all.  Elder has been used for a variety of things since ancient times:  hair dye, tonic for a fair complexion, food, medicine and the wood in many practical items.

Much superstition surrounds elder.  Legend has it that Christ was hung on a cross made of elder and that Judas hung himself in an elder tree.  Folklore predating the Christian era includes the belief that elder provided protection from witches and evil.  A symbol of sorrow and death, it was often planted in graveyards and hearse drivers sometimes carried horse whips made of elder wood.  Though elders were planted near dwellings and branches affixed to windows and doors as a protection against evil, it was an omen of death to bring elder indoors.  Elder branches were also attached to stables to keep animals safe.  Elder trees were believed to be inhabited by supernatural beings, namely a tree spirit, Elder Tree Mother.  Elder Tree Mother lived in the tree and protected it.  Permission and forgiveness must be sought from Elder Tree Mother prior to cutting any branches or misfortune was thought to follow.  Even so, some would not risk offending the tree spirit and would not cut or burn its wood.  Elder Tree Mother’s anger was feared and she was believed to haunt the owners of elder wood furniture and harm babies sleeping in elder wood cradles.

In modern herbal medicine elderberry is used in a syrup that is effective in treating colds, coughs and bronchial ailments as well as an extract that has antiviral and immune system-stimulating properties.  Commercially prepared elderberry syrups are available in most health food and herbal stores, but preparing your own syrup is quite easy.  The most difficult is removing the small berries and cleaning them.  The berries are about the size of peppercorns and detach from the stem easily, but are still tedious to work with.

I loosely followed the recipe posted at Magpie Eats.  Take two cups of washed berries and place in a pot with four cups of water.  Simmer gently for 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Strain and press through a fine mesh colander.  Discard pulp, take warm elderberry liquid and add eight ounces of honey and then bottle and keep refrigerated.

This can be used to help coughs and colds and is also tasty enough to use on pancakes!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2009 6:39 pm

    medicinal and good on pancakes? a winner in my book. and it’s beautiful to boot.

    marking this.

    • September 8, 2009 7:40 pm

      Right? You can’t go wrong when it’s three for three!

  2. Mom permalink
    September 9, 2009 5:28 am

    Sounds good all the way around.

  3. Cindy permalink
    September 9, 2009 9:18 am

    Where did you get your elderberries?

    • September 9, 2009 9:33 am

      Is this my friend Cindy? If so, I got some from Jana, she went picking on Sat. I can ask her exactly where she got them from, but it was east of I-5, I believe, maybe Canby or Silverton?

  4. Cindy permalink
    September 9, 2009 12:44 pm

    This is your friend Cindy : )
    I was hoping you picked them up somewhere here in town, darn. Oh well, it’s likely I wouldn’t have gotten to it anyway.

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