Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elderberry Syrup (Mechanicsburg PA)

(A Rosemary House Harvest: Susanna (aka Mary Poppins) with Elderberry Syrup and me with Hops Tincture)

Though time consuming, elderberry syrup is one of those "simplicity itself" recipes. It's incredibly effective at warding off the cold or flu, helps your body heal itself quickly if you do get sick, and above all (according to Susanna's "Mary Poppins' School of Medicine" mentality) it tastes delicious. It also tops my list as the most meditative concoction I've ever made. In addition to all the healthful immunity-boosting anthocyanins (those potent, purple antioxidants), elderberries also contain concentrated lessons in patience.
From harvesting the last clusters of berries from the top of the tree, to gently stripping them from their umbels, to reducing, flavoring and bottling the final product, it was a time-consuming process, though one that's impossible to resent. If you want to get this: you have to do this:.
And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
If you're lucky enough to have access to a tree, set aside a couple of hours and harvest those last few berry-bunches of the season and bring them on in. When they're finally simmering away with the honey and spices, the warm, scented steam will infiltrate your home and heart with tender, caretaking feelings, and your head will fill with thoughts of all the good the syrup will bring to those you share it with. Elderberry syrup is nothing if not a labor of love.


2 parts elderberries
2 parts water
1 part honey (plus a little extra, just 'cause)
ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, vanilla, or any other warming spices you desire

Simmer berries and water, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until it starts to reduce. Stir in honey and spices, mashing berries as you go, and cover for 5-10 more minutes. Remove from stove and pour through cheesecloth or metal strainer, making sure to press tightly at the end to get all the concentrated juice out of the "dregs." Pour into jars or cans, LABEL (very important in Susanna's kitchen!), and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.
Take 1 Tablespoon daily; 2 at the first sign of sickness and/or until well again.

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