It doesn’t surprise me that DIY health care is increasing in popularity. We know that the folks in control of the health care system in our country don’t necessarily have our best interest at heart. Much to their chagrin, there is an increasing availability of information for those looking to take back control of their own health and I’m so thankful for it! It’s good to have the knowledge that will allow me to opt-out and care for my family more naturally- though you have to be discerning and do your own research.
As I explore my options, I’m choosing to go the old-fashioned, inexpensive, more “self-sufficient” route, and learn about the medicines I can grow and prepare from my own backyard and countryside. (You know, where no governing body can necessarily find it and take it away from me.)
It makes sense to me that a good place to start was with an immune-booster like elderberry syrup. I mean, if you don’t get sick in the first place, you don’t need all the rest, do you?
Last year, we had our first harvest of elderberries and I prepared this syrup. It was surprisingly delicious and because it was canned, was always ready for immediate use whenever someone felt that first “tickle” in their throat or if we knew we had to go where there were going to be a lot of germs.
I’m not saying this elderberry syrup has been the cause of my year and a half cold-free streak, I’m just saying that since we’ve had it, and I’ve been using it, I’ve haven’t had a cold in that entire period of time. The rest of the family hasn’t fared quite as well. They went cold-free from about last September to July of this year. Still. Not too shabby for a family of 10!!! And a whole awful lot better than the year before when we were sick only to get well enough to venture out and get sick again.
This year, we were blessed with 11 pounds of elderberries which I froze after harvest. A couple weeks ago, when the tomatoes started to slow down, I pulled them out and made 12 pints of this syrup. Now it’s sitting on the pantry shelves, spicy, delicious, and ready to go!
It’s so delicious in fact, that it needn’t be taken like a medicine at all. It works beautifully on, say, buttermilk pancakes. Another way to prepare it would be to add in some pectin and make a jelly. So long as I have little ones who will be taking it, I’m going to prepare mine this way so that it sticks better to the spoon when I’m administering it to them. Or to the buttermilk biscuits when I’m administering them. It doesn’t spill off or soak into the carrier. That’s the point.
•Perhaps you’ve heard of the benefits that raw honey as a sweetener has on the immune system? Really it would make a lovely pairing to make a syrup, but since I’m canning this and heating it to a certain temperature to make it shelf stable, then adding raw honey would be just as good as me pulling a handful of cash out of my pocket and lighting it on fire. Heating it so high will destroy all of the constituents in the honey that make it raw. So I’ll save my raw honey for making a delicious cough syrup instead.
•Because I’d like to make the most of my yield of elderberries, I’d rather thicken it up to a syrup consistency rather than boil it down to one. Here’s where things get a bit confusing. Stay with me here. No, wait, hold on I’ll go make a chart. Be right back….
Here’s how you use the pectin you’ve got on hand for this recipe….
Elderberry Syrup (for the pantry shelf)
- 10 cups prepared elderberry juice
- 4 cups evaporated cane juice (You can buy it here.)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ cup evaporated cane juice
- ⅓ cup pectin (2/3 cup if you're making jelly)
- *For use with Pomona's Pectin- 3 teaspoons EACH of calcium water & pectin (You can buy it here. Or Azure Standard has good prices.)
- Freeze the berries after harvesting them if you're using fresh ones. You can also purchase dried elderberries here and use them.
- When you go to prepare the syrup, first remove as many of the stems from frozen berries as you can. Place the berries in a stockpot and cover them with water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer for 45 minutes.
- Strain the berries from the juice. You could use a piece of cheesecloth (which will stain). Or you could invest in this type of canning funnel. It's inexpensive and quite handy!!
- Mix the ¼ cup of the evaporated cane juice & the powdered pectin amount of choice in a bowl.
- Bring the elderberry juice, 4 cups of evaporated cane juice, the spices (and the calcium water IF using Pomona's only) to a full, rolling boil. Hold it there for a minute.
- Add in the cane juice/pectin mix.
- Return to full, rolling, boil & boil for 1 minute.
- Ladle into clean pint sized mason jars.
- Clean the rims.
- Top with lids and rings and then process for 10 minutes in a waterbath canner.
In the past, I’ve used 1/3 cup of Dutch Pectin. That’s as much as I’d use to make a batch of jelly. Since this is double the liquid than a typical jelly recipe, I’m technically using half the pectin to thicken up to a syrup.
Now that I’m using Pomona’s Pectin- which I love and have never had a batch not set!- I used only 5 teaspoons each of pectin and calcium water for jelly. (The calcium water comes with Pomona’s Pectin.) That’s about half the amount for a typical batch of jelly, and I found it set up a lot more like a jelly made with regular pectin instead of the super thick stuff like normal. I might adjust all my recipes! If you’re making a syrup, not a jelly, I’d use more like 3 teaspoons each.
•Don’t have fresh (or frozen) elderberries?? No problem! You can also purchase dried elderberries HERE and use them instead.