Friday, September 19, 2014

Creating in the Kitchen: Homemade Elderberry Sryup

I have been singing the praises of elderberry syrup to anyone who will listen for almost two years now.  My children and I have been taking our spoonsful of syrup dutifully, and I have found that without a doubt, we are getting sick less often, and our symptoms have been milder and faster to disappear.  I'm not much for presenting the science behind it all--I will leave that up to you to web search if you are interested--but suffice it to say that elderberry syrup fights colds and flu, which makes it pretty timely for you to consider right now as fall approaches.

I have been dishing out somewhere around $24 a bottle for the Gaia Herbs brand at my local Martindale's Natural Market, and just a couple dollars less once in awhile for Nature's Way Sambucus.  (The Gaia brand is a thick syrup that has to be stored in the refrigerator, and the Nature's Way brand is a thin liquid that can be left in the cupboard.  My kids tend to like the Nature's Way brand better, and a bottle lasts us much longer, but I have this gut feeling that the Gaia brand might be more effective.) 

Though expensive, I have always thought it was worth the money not to be laid out with three-week long colds, as I often have been in the past.  And when I add up the money spent on Sudafed, throat lozenges (sometimes two or three bags full during a single cold!), and saline nasal spray, I realize that it's almost as expensive to get sick as it is to try to prevent it with elderberry syrup.

With my current campaign to reduce costs around the house, though, I wanted to try my hand at making my own homemade elderberry syrup.  I am pretty excited about the results, though I will have to check in with you after cold and flu season to let you know if the homemade version is truly as effective as store-bought.
Elderberries simmering with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. 
That's not a plastic spoon, by the way; it's called Moboo--molded bamboo!
I found several web sites with recipes for homemade elderberry syrup, and I recommend to you the web site Wellness Mama, and her blog post from three years ago.
In order to follow the Wellness Mama recipe, I purchased a pound of dried elderberries from Rose Mountain Herbs, paying a very reasonable $13 for the product and a very unreasonable additional $10 for shipping.  Add to that the over $7 I paid for raw honey at the grocery store, and I was starting to have second thoughts about the cost- effectiveness of this project. 
After straining out the elderberries, I left the syrup in this bowl to cool
before adding the raw honey and filling my bottles.
However, making this first batch of syrup barely made a dent in my one pound bag of berries (only 2/3 of a cup worth), and I ended up with four bottles of syrup!  (I just reused bottles I had saved from the Gaia brand syrup.)

So, I will continue to sing the praises of elderberry syrup to you if you complain to me of colds or flu this fall and winter, and I just might add the suggestion that you tackle the DIY version.  It makes me feel a little like a pioneer woman when I can make something like this for myself rather than buying it off the shelves!

As an added benefit, the house smelled awesome while it simmered!

I highly recommend that you take a look at the recipe at Wellness Mama, and give elderberry a try as your preventative-medicine of choice this cold and flu season!


You know I'm not a doctor, right?  I'm a wife, mom, and crafter, so if you have any medical questions about elderberry syrup, you are not going to want to take MY word for it. 
Talk to your doctor!

Did you know that I also make my own deodorant and household cleaner?  I am taking this "detoxifying of body and home" very seriously; it's just been a slow road!


Joyfulploys said...

Hi Andria...I commend you for going the more natural route and making your own Elderberry syrup. I have long been interested in using natural products and all the better if you can make them yourself. I was making my own laundry detergent for awhile. And I do use a lot of white vinegar for cleaning and it works great as a rinse agent in the dishwasher.
I was looking at your paper crafts in the post your stickers. I have decided that Paper rules!

Debbie from Martindale's said...

Loved your post!

By the way, USDA Organic Gaia Elderberry is far more economical (if you don't have time to make it yourself), in that the 5.4 oz bottle yields 32 servings. Nature's Way Sambucus 8 oz only yields 24 servings. You need 2 tsp of Nature's Way while only 1 tsp of Gaia is needed. Currently at Martindale's you can get the Gaia on sale at 21.44 and the NW at $23.97.

Patty Antle said...

Very inspiring Andria! I do use the dawn and vinegar mixture and like the results for my bathrooms.

TheSnailMailer said...

I was planning to plant an elderberry bush soon. I missed the one I had in IA, and I used to make elderberry apple sauce with it. The bushes are beautiful if anybody wants to grow one!

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