The mountains surrounding the Rogue Valley are lush with things to forage throughout the year including Elderberries in late September. Known for their immune-boosting health benefits, many folks make jams, syrups, and tinctures in preparation for the cold season.
The Elderberry that grows here in Southern Oregon tends to be an Oregon native, the Blue Elderberry. Although it can grow quite tall, it is classified as a shrub or small tree. Its berries are coated with natural yeast that makes them appear light blue, although the berry itself is a dark purple. While they look delicious, blue, and especially the red elderberry variety, contain hydrocyanic acid and should be cooked well before being eaten.
Wild foraging anything should be done with respect and care. Make sure you are not on private land, be mindful to not break or damage the tree (Elderberry trees have delicate branches), and always take care to spread your harvest over several trees and areas, leaving some fruit for the wildlife who also enjoy this seasonal berry too.
This recipe is very simple and is a nice added routine to keep your immune system in check during the winter months. Enjoy!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
- 6 cups fresh elderberries
- 1 cup Organic Alcohol (I used Lychee)
- 3 cups spring or distilled water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 medium-sized ginger root
- 2 cups honey (raw is preferred)
- Large pot for boiling
- Cheesecloth or metal strainer
- Mason jars or bottles for storing
WHAT YOU'LL DO
- Remove stems and any unripe berries
- Add berries, cinnamon, ginger, and water to a large pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour
- Let sit and cool for an additional hour
- Strain out all solids, leaving the liquid
- Stir in honey and organic spirits into liquid
- Sterilize mason jars and bottles using boiling water (careful!)
- Pour your finished syrup into bottles and cap them tightly
- Add labels with the date
The addition of honey and OAC spirits will help your syrup keep for longer. Keep finished syrup refrigerated, generally lasts up to 2 months. You can increase the ratio of honey to your syrup to 1:1 for an even longer shelf life.
Take a teaspoon of syrup every day during the cold season to help strengthen immunity and get a dose of vitamin C!
Don’t have time to tromp in the woods yourself? Here are some excellent pre-made Elderberry products for you to try
ANIMA MUNDI: BLACK ELDERBERRY SYRUP: VEGAN + ORGANIC ANTIVIRALS This double-extracted version from one of our favorite herbal companies has added anti-viral herbals added to give you an extra boost.
WOODEN SPOON HERBS: ELDERBERRY ELIXER If you haven’t heard of Wooden Spoon yet, you should check them out. This tonic is plant-based immune support made with honey and apple cider vinegar.