This article is part of the Sweet Medicine Herbal Blog Party for August. Herbalist Kiva Rose is the host this month. For lots of great information from some pretty amazing Herbalists, check out her blog throughout August: The Medicine Woman’s Roots
Yum, one of my favorites! My daughter and I have both loved elderberry syrup for years now. It’s so deliciously tasty and a great immune booster. Elderberries are supposed to grow around here, on the edge of wooded environments. However, no matter how I hard I look, I still haven’t found any. Last autumn as the rose hips turned their bright red, like a flag they beckoned me. I had to wonder… Both elderberries and rose hips are high in antioxidants (Vitamin A and C) and have historically been utilized for immunity boosting, virus fighting, cold, cough, and flu relief, etc. Plus, they both made tasty concoctions. After a little experimenting with my potion, it was “delicioso” as my daughter says!
First, here’s some syrup basics that are good to know if you’ve never made syrup before.
An Herbal Syrup is simply a water extraction of one or more plants, thickened with a natural sweetener. Syrups are commonly used to boost immunity as a daily tonic, and for coughs and respiratory ailments. They are a tasty, gentle way for children and adults to consume their herbs.
Honey and sugar are some common sweeteners used to make syrups. Honey is great because it is a natural expectorant, builds immunities (especially to local allergens), and has a high mineral content, enzymes, and so much more.
Maple syrup, which is also high in minerals, is a good vegan alternative to honey. Another vegan option is agave nectar which does not raise the blood sugar and is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Glycerin or brandy may also be used.
2 qt pot/pan
Pint or Quart size Mason jar
Mesh or other strainer or filter
Making the Syrup:
2 ounces herbs (~ ½ cup for leaves or flowers; 1 cup for denser parts like roots, barks, and berries)
1 quart (=4c) water
½ – 1 cup sweetener or to taste
*Notes: Feel free to change amounts of herbs, leave some out, add some, etc. One part equals whatever you would like it to: a tablespoonful, handful, etc. You might want to make a small amount first; then do a taste test. Make adjustments if necessary and make more. It’s helpful to write down exactly what measurements you choose and changes you make so you won’t have to guess the next time.
Simmer herbs in water without lid until liquid is reduced by ½ (=2c), about 45 minutes. Strain carefully by pouring through strainer or cheesecloth and funnel. Cool until just warm enough to liquefy the honey if using (below 110o F). Stir in sweetener. Bottle and label with ingredients and date. Will keep for weeks to months in the refrigerator.
For adults: 1-2 tsp per hour or two, or as needed
-Young’s Formula: Age in years divided by (age + 12) = portion of adult dose
-Dilling’s Formula: Age in years divided by 20 = portion of adult dose
OR When Adult Dosage is 1 teaspoon :
|Younger than 3 months||2 drops|
|3 to 6 months||3 drops|
|6 to 9 months||4 drops|
|9 to 12 months||5 drops|
|12 to 18 months||7 drops|
|18 to 24 months||8 drops|
|2 to 3 years||10 drops|
|3 to 4 years||12 drops|
|4 to 6 years||15 drops|
|6 to9 years||24 drops|
|9 to 12 years||30 drops|
(from Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal)
Now for my tasty recipe:
Elder Rose Syrup
½ cup Elderberries
¼ cup Rose Hips
1 qt water
½ – 1 c sweetener
You can use fresh or dried berries and hips. I’ve read you should deseed the rose hips, but that’s pretty labor intensive, besides they have a lot of Vitamin E. Chop them up if you like, but I just leave them whole. Also, fresh rose hips are sometimes bitter, possibly a lot more bitter than dried. So taste them first. If they taste bitter you can try using less rose hips and more berries. You can also make smaller quantities until you perfect your recipe.
Follow Making the Syrup directions. Sweeten to taste. Cool & Refrigerate. Drink following dosage guidelines for acute ailments, or drink a little everyday for an immunity boosting tonic. My 6 year-old daughter and I drink about an ounce or two per day, especially during the cold and flu season, or an ounce every few hours during times of illness.
I hope you love this syrup as much as I do. Please post your own experiences, questions, and your recipe variations.