Elderberry Syrup!

005A few years ago I planted two elderberry bushes in my garden; they have done very well. In the last 3 years the bushes have produced several gallons of elderberries.  So what to do with all the elderberries? From fresh berries I have made pies but my family doesn’t really like elderberry pie very much, so I froze most of the berries. I now have about two gallons in the freezer. Being inspired by Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for elderberry syrup in her wonderful book Medicinal Herbs, I decided to make elderberry syrup!

What fun, how tasty and above all, very healthy for the immune system. So, yesterday I got out the needed ingredients: 4 cups frozen elderberries, local raw honey, fresh ginger root, and 1 tsp ground cloves

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There are any number of recipes for elderberry syrup to be found. You can omit ginger and cloves or you can add cinnamon. With my first batch I put in cinnamon and cloves. I love ginger and with my second batch I omitted the cinnamon but added more ginger as I really like the peppery flavor. It is very soothing to a sore throat.

In making elderberry syrup you can use fresh, frozen or dried berries. It all works out the same for a healthy concoction to boost your immune system. I like to take a tablespoon a day but others in my family only use it when getting sick. It also makes a nice pancake syrup, added flavor for tea, to sweeten and flavor a nice warm bowl of oatmeal.

Here is what I did:

  1. Placed the berries in a large stainless steel pot and added 1/8 cup of water. Simmered the berries for 30 minutes until nice and soft. Then poured the berries and leftover liquid into a large mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Mashed the berries for a few minutes to get out all the dark purple juice. Discarded the mashed berries into my compost collector.
  2.  Poured the juice back into the cooking pot and added 1 tsp. ground cloves and a 2 inch”finger”of grated fresh ginger. Simmered this mixture about 30 minutes until the liquid was about half of the amount I had poured in.
  3.  Poured the simmered mixture through a small mesh tea strainer to remove any stringy ginger into a glass measuring cup. This turned out to be 3/4 cup. Recipes tell you to add the same amount of honey to the final juice product, so I stirred in 3/4 cup and put the pot back on the unit to heat enough to combine the honey and juice.
  4.  Tried a spoonful and it was delicious, so poured the syrup into an amber-colored jar and placed it in the refrigerator.
  5.  Done! ……………….Except to clean up the mess! 😀

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From Johnny Appleseed to Grannie Appleseed

As a child I always loved the story of Johnny Appleseed, so when in my later lifetime I became interested in starting an apple orchard, envisioning my grandchildren coming into Grannie’s picking ripe, juicy, red apples, the idea of me as a “Grannie Appleseed” popped into my mind.  So, Grannie Appleseed bought several varieties of young apple trees a few years ago but the vision of lots of apples hanging ripe from the five trees remains a dream to come true.  Hopefully!  The grandchildren crop is doing well, I must say.  So far we are blessed with three granddaughters and one grandson and another grandson on the way!

Of course, I want to grow my apple trees organically and am reading and trying everything I can to do that because I believe organically grown food is the best way for us living now and for posterity.  Weather, however, has been the biggest deterrent to my apple crop.  The trees have looked really good and healthy but late frosts have destroyed the apple blossoms more than once and the last three years we have been devastated with grasshoppers which devour everything including making holes in the window screens.  They ate all the leaves off the apple trees.

What kind of season will we have this year?  Maybe we’ll see a few more apples than last year.  A book that has been helpful in my apple orchard dream is The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips.  I highly recommend it.

This is my first attempt at a blog and my first attempt at developing a thriving apple orchard! So, hang in there with me and maybe I can offer helpful and encouraging advice to others.  Who knows?  Grannie Appleseed may even blog on to share “idea seeds” on current and historical topics.