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Last winter all three kids and I got sick at the same time. We ended up with a loooooong three weeks of coughing, sneezing and that overall icky feeling. My friend Corri brought me a bottle of her homemade elderberry syrup to help with the cough and to get us back on our feet. I never had heard of elderberry syrup before, but at the time I was happy to take anything that would make my little ones and me feel better. Not only did it taste amazing, but also it helped with that stubborn cough. Soon we felt better, but my kids still begged for a sip of the elderberry syrup (or, as my 7-year-old calls it, elly-belly syrup). Corri told me that elderberry syrup also boosts the immune system, that it is good to take at times other than when you have a cold. Well, now I have learned more about this miracle syrup and plan to make my own this year.

Elderberry syrup is made from the dark berries of the elderberry bush. The berries and flowers are well known for their health benefits and many uses in food, wine, and even as medicine. Elderberries contain tannin, amino acids, flavonoids, as well as vitamins A, B and a large amount of Vitamin C; and are rich in antioxidants that can boost the immune system. During late summer, clusters of berries begin to ripen where the flowers used to be. They must be cooked, though, before used because they’re poison when consumed raw.

To prevent illness and boost the immune system, take 1 tsp. a day; when fighting illness, take up to 3 tsp. a day. The recipe below contains raw honey, which is not recommended for children under the age of 12 months.

Elderberry syrup recipe from The Healthy Home Economist:

Makes about 6-8 small bottles of elderberry syrup

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Place elderberries and filtered water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes. Mash the elderberries to release any remaining juice. Using cheesecloth, strain the mixture into a glass bowl. When the liquid has come to room temperature, gently stir in the raw honey and mix thoroughly.

Store in labeled 8- or 12-ounce amber glass bottles.

This mixture will last many months in a cool, dark pantry or in the refrigerator.