Black Elderberries Grow in ClustersBlack elderberry has been used for centuries as an herbal healer. From the ancient Egyptians, to prehistoric people in Switzerland and Italy, to the present day, elderberry has been used to treat over 70 different medical conditions, including colds and flu, fevers, and even burns and cuts. Today, black elderberry is taking its place as one of many well-known herbal flu remedies.

This plant is native to Europe and North America, and grows wild along roads and fencerows. Some people even grow it in their backyards so that they always have access to the flowers and berries. Black elderberry is one of many natural healing herbs that have been rediscovered in recent years.

How To Make Elderberry Syrup

Making elderberry syrup at home is really very easy. All you need are fresh or dried elderberries, some sugar or honey, a fork, a large pot, a strainer, a spatula to mash the berries with, a metal bowl, and a stove or hotplate. A food mill, if you have one available, makes mashing the berries easier after they're cooked. Also have a glass jar with a lid on hand for storing the finished syrup.

The berries tend to stain aluminum pots, so try to use a stainless steel pot, if possible. It's best to wear old clothes that you don't mind having a few stains on, in case of splatters and spills.

Elderberries grow in clusters. They're pretty small, and it can be time-consuming to remove them from the stems. To make this job easier and faster, use a fork to comb through the cluster of berries over the pot, and they'll drop right off.

To make a small batch of elderberry syrup, all you need is one cup of fresh berries, or a half-cup of dried berries. Put the berries in a pot, and add three cups of water. Bring the berries and water to a boil. Then turn down the heat, and let them simmer for about a half-hour.

Mash the berries, or put them through a food mill. Watch out for splatters! This can be a little messy.

Strain the berries through strainer and catch the juice in the metal bowl. Avoid using a plastic bowl, unless you don't care if it turns purple.

Stir a cup of honey into the warm juice, pour it into the glass jar, and store it in the fridge. It will keep for months in there.

To make a quart of elderberry syrup, cook two pounds of black elderberry fruit in four cups of water. Mash and strain the fruit, catching the juice in a bowl.

To make a thicker syrup, put the juice back into the pot with two and a half cups of sugar. Bring it to a boil, turn down the heat, and let it simmer for fifteen minutes, until it thickens. Add a little lemon juice if desired. Let it cool completely, pour into a glass jar, and store in the fridge.

Health Benefits of Elderberry Syrup

Research has shown that black elderberries contain a compound that not only protects healthy cells in the body from viruses, but also inactivates the viruses as well. In fact, black elderberry has been shown to destroy viruses more effectively than echinacea.

These berries have very high levels of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that support the immune system. The anthocyanin levels in black elderberries are five times higher than in blueberries, and twice as high as in cranberries.

How To Use Elderberry Syrup

Children Like Elderberry SyrupTo prevent colds and the flu, take one teaspoonful of syrup both morning and evening. To treat a cold, take a teaspoonful of syrup every two or three hours. Children love this syrup, so it's easy to give it to them, as well. For babies under two, use syrup made with sugar, not honey.

Elderberry syrup is also delicious on pancakes, and drizzled over ice cream.

If you don't have access to fresh elderberries, you can order dried ones online. Elderberry syrup is also available, either at your local natural foods store, or online. In any case, be sure to try this proven herbal cold remedy this winter.

For information on growing elderberries in your own garden, visit this page at Cornell University.

Information in this article came from Respect Your Elderberries: Elderberry Syrup Recipe.