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I have always been one to do things a little unconventionally and considered myself to be pretty natural minded. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I really started researching every little thing and went full blown “crunchy mom.” Turns out what I had considered natural before was mostly misguided and hadn’t even began to graze the surface of natural living. One step at a time though, I am getting closer to a completely holistic lifestyle.
My top priority as a mom is keeping my little one safe and healthy. We don’t live in a perfect world so sometimes illness is unpreventable, but I do try everything in my ability to keep her healthy. It is especially important at an age where she is putting any and everything in her mouth and literally has to touch everything she sees. Young brains are just wired that way. (Other parents can relate to this I am sure.)
With that said, I do a lot of things to help boost her immune system and ours, such as lots of outdoor time for Vitamin D, essential oils that support the body, extended breastfeeding, a healthy diet free of ingredients that inhibit the immune system and is also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and of course elderberry syrup!
These are just a few of the things we do that have helped us stay healthy, and when illness does happen we can get over it faster!
So what is elderberry syrup?
The syrup is made by boiling the berries down and are often mixed with honey or alcohol to prevent mold and extend shelf life. I use local honey in my recipe for the added health benefits that it provides. Local honey helps to prevent allergy symptoms because bees make it with the same pollen that will cause those symptoms.
It is important to note that children under 1 should never have honey because it can lead to infantile botulism. This rare and scary condition is caused by spores that can be found in honey. If you would like to give some to a child under one simply emit the honey or swap it out for agave nectar or maple syrup as a sweetener.
Dry vs. Fresh Elderberries
You can use freeze dried elderberries or fresh elderberries if you are lucky enough to find them. Some day I would love to have my very own elderberry bushes, but until then I purchase mine online here. Either will work just fine, but you will need to adjust the berry to water ratio accordingly. Dried berries will need a 1:4 ratio while fresh berries will need a 1:3 or 1:2 ratio because they have a higher liquid content.
There is no strict recipe for making elderberry syrup. This was my first time making it so I am sharing the recipe I used, but you can really play around and get creative with the ingredients to change the flavor or increase the immune boosting power. Some suggestions for add ins are orange, lemon, vanilla, and cayenne.
For prevention most people will take a tablespoon a day and will increase to 3 tablespoons when they are starting to feel sick. For children the recommended dose is 1 teaspoon daily.
I like to add ours to smoothies sometimes instead of taking a spoonful. You could also make elderberry gummies. This would be a fun way to get children to eat them! Here and here are some tutorials on how to make them.
4 cups of filtered or distilled water
1 cup dried elderberries or 2 cups of fresh elderberries
1 cup of honey (local raw honey preferred)
1 tablespoon ginger fresh or ground
1 tablespoon cinnamon or 2 sticks
1/2 teaspoon cloves
4-5 star anise
- Rinse your elderberries thoroughly.
- Add elderberries, water, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and star anise to a pot and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Your liquid should have reduced by about half.
- Strain the liquid through a strainer, cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. Compost your elderberries if you have the means or dispose of them.
- Add your honey at this point and stir to dissolve. Your liquid should be warm still, but not too hot or it will affect the healing properties of the honey.
- Pour you elderberry syrup into an air tight container such as a mason jar or a swing top bottle like this one.