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


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! 😀


Blueberry and Strawberry Blossoms

Here they come again! By May we should be enjoying fresh strawberries and blueberries.  Blueberries are my favorite berry but I really love all berries, including the tart gooseberry.  With 52 young blueberry bushes, my kids told me to stop planting anymore as I would be overrun with them.  I told my kids I can’t have too many blueberries and I won’t be “overrun” with them until I have my freezer and theirs full of berries and have given quarts away to friends and folk at church.  If I still have so many blueberries, I would try to sell them at the local farmers’ market and restaurants which buy local produce.  So, you see, I could buy at least one more plant this year.  😊

What varieties do I have so far? Rubel, Toro, Jersey, Early Blue, Jewel, Brigitta, Windsor, Legacy, O’Neal, Emerald, Elliott, Ochlocknee, Northern Blue and Sweetheart.  By planting early, mid-season and late season varieties you can enjoy fresh blueberries from late April through June in my area of Northwest Arkansas.

The strawberry variety I have is Tristar which is a disease resistant, everbearing variety producing a heavy crop in early spring, lighter crops in hot summer weather, and increased size berries in fall.  We have been very happy with this variety.  I only have one small bed of strawberries so we eat them fresh and as fast as they come.

Strawberry blossom


Blueberry blossoms