Monday, October 30, 2017

Elderberry Syrup

As I mentioned in my last post, we are huge fans of elderberry syrup around here. Elderberry syrup is great for cold/flu prevention, as well as helping to kick a cold to the curb if you already have one. We use the Elderberry brandy for ourselves after we get home from work, but this syrup is great for during the work day , and perfectly safe for kids.

We've purchased elderberry syrup at the store, but it's so expensive - especially when you have 3 people taking it, so I started making my own. And it's insanely cheaper. For example, I can buy a bottle of Elderberry syrup for about $12 at my local natural foods store. Conversely, I can make a batch four times that size for about $6 in ingredients. So it's a no brainer to make our own. Plus, it only takes about 90 minutes to make a 4 cup batch.

  (Mommy, can you put my truck in your picture??)

I start out with 1 cup of dried elderberries (Amazon is a great place to get them) and put those in a pan with 4 cups of water. I add 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 star anise, 6-7 whole cloves, and then 1/4 cup dried echinacea.

Bring to a boil after stirring well, then lower to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain out the spent herbs and berries with a fine strainer, and use the back of a spatula to smash any extra syrup out of them.

Then I add 3/4 cup to 1 cup raw honey. Raw honey is so good for you and is loaded with all sorts of antibacterial properties. I'm slightly obsessed with local raw honey. Each variation (wildflower, orange blossom) has it's own taste. I found a Sweet Clover Wildflower honey at my local store and it's my new obsession. The taste is unreal.

 Anyway, I digress.Once your syrup has cooled to room temperature, add up to 1 cup honey. The herby taste is a little strong due to the echinacea, so if you have kids who are sensitive, I'd use the full cup. I started there with ours, and have now decreased it down to 3/4 cup and my son doesn't even know the difference.

Then store in a jar in the fridge. I know many who keep theirs in the pantry, and quite frankly, you could, but I like to be safe rather than sorry and keep mine in the fridge. For dosage, I give my son about 5ml (about 1 tsp) once per day as preventative medicine (although it's good to give your body a break every now and then, so we only take it for a week or so before taking a day off) or 5ml twice per day if he's fighting a cold. For adults, I recommend 15ml (about a tbsp) in the same frequencies.

Oh label maker - how I love thee!

And as always, I'm not a medical professional, so please check with your health guru prior to use.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Elderberry Immunity Brandy

Hey ya'll!

It's me! Those of you who follow me on Instagram know I'm alive and well, as I post pretty frequently over there. But I haven't given the blog any love in a long time, so I've been thinking of what I wanted to post.

Some of the most frequent questions I get through Instagram are about the herbal medicines we use in the home to promote health and wellness, so I thought I'd start with a series of posts, featuring our most favorite and most used herbal recipes. I'm a huge fan of herbal medicine, and we use them quite frequently in our home. And as cold and flu season has already started around here, it was time to restock our herbal remedy cabinet. Today we're starting out with Elderberry Immunity Brandy, which is great for treating adult colds and flu, and over the next few weeks, I'll have posts with recipes for Fire Cider, Elderberry Syrup for kids, Garlic Infused Honey, and some other things. (UPDATE - here's the link for the kid-friendly version!)

And follow me over on Instagram to keep up to date with posts and new recipes too!

Elderberries are amazing for the immune system and have been used to prevent and treat colds and flus for many years. They are naturally high in immune-boosting compounds. They have also been proven to shorten the duration of a cold if you already have one. Two weeks ago, my son got sick, and then I got sick, and then my husband (as these things go) and we were able to kick it within 24-48 hours using our elderberry syrup, fire cider, and some other homeopathic things. Elderberry syrup is available in most stores, but it can be somewhat pricey, so I like to make my own. I make a different syrup (one without brandy) for the boy and I'll have that recipe next week.

I like to boost up the elderberry brandy by adding in echinacea, which is another great immune booster. Echinacea encourages the immune system and reduces many symptoms of colds, flu, as well as some other infections and illnesses. And rosehips are a source of vitamin C, aid in absorption, plus they taste really good, so I like to add them in as well.

I happen to have really good Amish stores around me that sell all of these things in bulk, but if you can't find them locally, Amazon has them, as well as Mountain Rose Herbs, which is a fantastic place for great, solid herbal products.

In a pint jar, add 3/4 cup dried elderberries, 1 heaping tbsp of dried echinacea and 1 heaping tbsp of dried rosehips.

I also add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup raw honey. We like ours on the less sweet side, but the brandy can be powerful, so if you're sensitive, I'd add the full 1/2 cup. It will be much more syrupy. And look at this delicious raw honey. It's thick and creamy and just delicious. Plus, raw honey is loaded with all sorts of antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Fill the jar up with brandy. Cheap is fine. I usually pick up a large handle of whatever's on sale, as we use it a lot for tinctures and other herbal things.

Cap the jar and place it into a dark space for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking every few days or so. Strain it, using a coffee filter or cheesecloth placed into a strainer. For dosage, we usually take about 20ml (or one tablespoon) 2-3 times per day when we already have a cold, or one dose per day during cold season. Since it is brandy, I wouldn't recommend taking it before work, unless that's how you roll.

And here's a recipe for a kid-friendly version!

And standard disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional, so make sure to consult with your own medical gurus prior to use.