January 19, 2016

Fresh from the Cabinet: Elderberry & Spice Syrup Recipe ~ A Natural Immune Booster for the Whole Family

Elderberry and Spice Syrup: Homemade Remedy for Boosting the Immune SystemIt is that time of the year when all around you is the sound of coughing and sneezing. Your Facebook news feed is full of reports of head colds and the flu bringing down your friends, family and coworkers! You feel like wearing a Hazmat suit whenever you head to the office, and want to spray your kids down with Lysol as soon as they walk through the door after school. It's the time when you start pulling out all the stops to boost your family's immune system--from increased vitamin C to EmergenC packets. In our family, it means daily doses of elderberry syrup!
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If you have ever checked out getting elderberry syrup from a store, you can see that it's pretty expensive and a daily dose for the whole family can drain a bottle quickly. That's why I explored the idea of making my OWN syrup a few years ago. After checking out a few different recipes, I shared my own simple elderberry syrup recipe on the blog a few years ago. But as always, I began exploring new ideas for adding additional ingredients to boost the nutritional value of the syrup. Once I found a combination I liked, I have been making it ever since! Now it's time for me to share my updated recipe with you too!

Elderberry and Spice Syrup

The ingredients are simple: elderberries (dried), water (filtered is ideal), ginger (the root!), whole cloves, cinnamon sticks (ceylon, not cassia), and honey (raw!). The process involves making it into a reduced syrup before adding in the honey and takes all of about 40 minutes from beginning to end.

*I get asked a lot about where I buy my bulk elderberries or spices--the answer is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have the best products and very good prices! I have always been very happy with my order. In fact, I'm getting ready to put in another order because this recipe used up my stash of elderberries!

Begin by getting the berries and spices in a saucepan.
Just dump the berries and spices all together in your saucepan
Love my organic cinnamon sticks! I snap them in half!
Whole cloves smell soooo yummy! Organic of course.
Nothing beats adding FRESH ginger root. I grate up about 1-2".
Add your water and stir!
I always use our filtered water. We have a RO system.

Bring to a gentle boil on medium heat. Stir well.

Once it boils, you need to turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pan. Let it reduce for 30 minutes to make it a nice syrup.

It will visibly look different. It will look thicker and your berries will be a bit puffy.

Remove from heat and strain out the liquid into a bowl. I prefer a glass measuring cup so that I can pour it later. Make sure you push down on the berries and spices with your spatula to get all the syrup out.

You should have about 1 cup of liquid
Toss the spices and berries in the organic. 
Once it's drained, you can get rid of the berries and spices. My mom says her chickens use to LOVE the berries once she had used them up. I know that the birds in our area go nuts once I dump these out into our garden.

Add in the honey and whisk it well to mix.
We love our raw honey! Adds extra nutritional benefits from it being raw and even local!

Once you whisk it or stir it well, the honey won't be visibly separated and the liquid will be nice, dark and a rich dark reddish purple hue. You will now have about 2 cups of completed syrup! 

Pour your elderberry syrup into a container--mason jars are ideal!--and seal it up well! You can store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 months. 

I take a nice big tablespoon for myself about twice a day. The boys get 2 teaspoons twice a day. Because it's good for you, without any bad ingredients, you can help boost your famiy's immune systems with it throughout the day--especially if they start sniffling!
I am so thankful I have this recipe! We go through a batch every 2-4 months during the winter. Sometimes I will double it, but I find I like keeping it better in a quart or pint (it will be the to the brim in a pint) jar. 

This WILL go bad...the taste will start to change as it does and you will notice the jar getting residue. It will also mold it you forget about it. So make sure that you remember you have it and take it daily to boost your immune system!

I also regularly add it to my morning smoothies. I have heard some people like it over vanilla ice cream!

My boys love the taste of it, and when they are coughing, I can give them regular spoonfuls of it to help ease the cough frequency.


Elderberry and Spice Syrup
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
15-20 whole cloves
1-2 T. grated ginger root (about 1" to 2" of root)
2 sticks cinnamon
1-1 1/2 cup raw honey
Mason Jar

1. Add the elderberries, spices and water to saucepan and stir. Cook on medium heat until a gentle boil. Stir well.
2. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes to reduce liquid to a syrup.
3. Strain out the liquid into a bowl. Push on the berries and spices to make sure you get all the liquid. Dispose of the berries and spices.
4. Add the raw honey and whisk to mix well. 
5. Pour into a glass container--mason jars are the best! Store in refrigerator for up to 4 months.

Recommended serving size for taking it straight:
Adult: 1-2 tablespoons twice a day or as needed.
Children (over age 1 due to honey): 1-2 tsp twice a day or as desired

I hope that you will give this second recipe a try for a bit more flavor in the syrup. We love this one and make it regularly. It tastes delightful and we go through it very quickly--especially during the cold and flu season! When we pair this homemade syrup with our elderberry echinacea tea, we can usually kick to the curb any bug trying to bring us down! You can add other spices as desired to this basic recipe. I have started adding rosehips and dried hibiscus flowers these days. Some people will add brandy or whiskey--a splash or so--for the additional preservative qualities and health benefits (think Hot Toddies). 

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