Spiced Elderberry Tincture
Or sweeten it with raw honey to make a cordial
Elderberry syrup is overrated.
Yeah, I said it.
I’ve made and used elderberry syrup for years. Dispensing syrup to children is always a sticky, messy delight. And, seriously, who feels like making a batch when they aren’t feeling well or are having to care for sick children? So I modified my elderberry syrup to make a loose jelly that would stick to a spoon and be ready and waiting on my pantry shelf when I needed it.
But the results were always mixed.
Sometimes it seems to make a difference and other times it didn’t. The children were never keen on the flavor of elderberries anyway so getting them to take it was like pulling teeth.
And then I came across a recipe for an elderberry cordial in The Herbal Kitchen that piqued my interest. It certainly appealed to my lazy food-preserving self!
While I’ve modified it a bit over the years to nudge it into a more medicinal recipe, the flavor knocks syrup right out of the park (and I don’t like alcohol!) Even the kids reach for it before the elderberry syrup sitting on the shelf.
And it works!
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Elderberry Tincture or Cordial?
Technically the ingredients for this elderberry recipe are steeped in alcohol and unless you mix in honey, you’ve got yourself a lovely tincture. If you mix in honey (preferably raw), however, at a 1:1 ratio, you’ve got yourself a cordial. We’re all good with taking it as a tincture, it’s really that delicious! But if you need to, add the honey to help make the delivery even more enjoyable.
The great part about leaving it as a tincture is you don’t need to worry about straining it until you need it. Pop the ingredients in the jar now and if you don’t get sick for over a year, it’s good to just sit there till you need it!
When to Take Elderberry Tincture
In my experience, you’ve got to start taking elderberry right when you start feeling sick. That tickle in the throat, the dust behind the eyes, the warmth running up the spine. We get a big drink of water and make sure it’s not an irritant that needs to be washed away. We will take a nap and be sure we’re not just a little sleepy. But if that doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to bust out the elderberry tincture. We will take it about 3-4 times for a day or so until we realize, “ Hey, I never did get sick.”
But if our symptoms start to progress, after the first full day of illness, I stop taking (or administering) elderberry tincture to my family and move on to easing specific symptoms. Once the symptoms of a cold are full-blown, I’ve never once noticed elderberry to make a difference. The colds of those of us who take it regularly throughout don’t seem to be any shorter than those of us who don’t.
So now I conserve the elderberry for the next cold if we didn’t get it down our gullets soon enough. If we weren’t practicing awareness of our bodies, taking it early, and instead used it throughout the cold I would have to make gallons and gallons of this stuff so I’m not really sad to see it work this way.
Obviously, I’m no doctor or anything, just a mom trying to keep her family well. But the way this works does seem to make sense. At the beginning of a cold, when symptoms are barely noticeable, the viral load would be very low and then the elderberry boosts an immune system enough to knock it out, right?
The addition of immune-modulating astragalus is optional but recommended. Cinnamon & ginger really make the flavor shine while being useful for colds in their own right (especially if you have a sore throat). And I’m adding rose hips to the recipe card, though I’ve yet to use them, because I fully intend to once my roses produce enough hips to harvest. They are the most vitamin C-rich source of food that can be grown in the middle of America. And we all know how helpful vitamin C is for helping a body kick a cold! I don’t see why some organic orange peels wouldn’t be a darn tasty substitute!
You’re welcome to download this recipe card to your device to save or print! Enjoy!