With Cinnamon and Cardamom
1 cup dried elderberries
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods, opened
½ cup honey
Elderberry syrup is a favourite winter wellness recipe of mine because it tastes delicious and elderberries have a long history of use as immune supporting medicine.
Most people have their tried and true methods for coping with a cold. For me, I rest, drink tea, eat soup, and enjoy spoonfuls of homemade elderberry syrup. I try to make some at the beginning of cold & flu season so that I am prepared if I end up ill. Elderberries have long been used to help fight the common cold, and there is some research that supports consuming them for that purpose. In one study, people with influenza (flu virus) were given elderberry syrup or a placebo syrup, and then monitored. Those receiving elderberry syrup were well four days sooner than those receiving placebo, which provides support for the use of elderberry to help fight the influenza virus.1 Another study arrived at a similar conclusion; elderberry supplementation helps treat upper respiratory tract infection symptoms caused by viral infections.2 As most common colds are caused by viruses, which cannot be treated with antibiotics, it is important to have other evidence based treatment options, so it is encouraging to see supportive research for elderberries. With that said, one study demonstrated that elderberry extract inhibited the growth of a few bacterial species in addition to viruses.3 The bacteria in this study are known to cause infections in humans, but the study was completed in the lab, not in humans. So, while these are promising results, we can’t completely conclude that elderberry will fight bacterial infections in humans.
This particular recipe includes cinnamon and cardamom, which lend a festive, warming flavour. We decided to use honey instead of sugar, but it could certainly be made with sugar instead. Keep in mind that children under the age of one should not consume honey. This syrup is not shelf stable, and should be stored in the fridge. In addition to drinking it by the spoonful, you could also pour the syrup over pancakes, or use it to sweeten tea.
Makes about 1 cup of elderberry syrup
Combine berries, spices, and water in a pot.
- Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and continuing steeping for 1 hour.
- Strain elderberries and spices using a cheesecloth into a clean container.
- Add honey and stir until combined.
- Store in fridge.
Further ideas and modifications
- To make this product shelf stable, consider using white sugar, more honey and/or alcohol.
- Consider adding other spices like star anise, nutmeg, cloves, ginger or vanilla. You can also make elderberry syrup without any further embellishment, it is still delicious.
- Zakay-Rones, Z. et al. (2004). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 32(2):132-40.
- Hawkins, J et al. (2019). Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 42: 361-365.
- Krawitz C. et al. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 11:16.
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