When your body has been subsumed by what feels like the cold of the century, you may think the only option is to let it run its course.
While that’s mostly true, some natural home remedies will not only help you to feel better during a rough ride, but may also nudge you toward a speedier recovery. Just one hour spent in the kitchen on prep will set you up to have something restorative, nourishing, and medicinal for the months ahead.
Elderberries are one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world. A hardy immune stimulant, elderberries can be cooked into a sweet syrup or oxymel to take daily, proactively for immune support, in times of stress or increased risk of illness (e.g. holiday travel), or at the first sign of a cold or flu.
When sourcing elderberries, ensure that all twigs are removed and that the berries are cooked sufficiently to eliminate the toxins found in the seeds. Finding “fresh” elderberries is a little harder as, depending on where you live, they’re harvested between May and September. Because they are quick to ripen and ferment, most farms freeze them immediately upon picking and destemming, making them accessible year-round.
Search “elderberry farms near me” in Google and see what’s around you. Dried elderberries can be purchased online from places like Mountain Rose Herbs, Frontier Coop, Amazon, and Well.ca, or often through your naturopath. You can also easily find elderberry syrup at any health food store or online, but it tends to be more expensive.
Note: If using fresh or frozen elderberries, measure the amount of juice you extract and add equal parts apple cider vinegar and raw honey (or to taste).
- 1 lb fresh or frozen elderberries or ½ lb dried
- 1 cup (250 ml) apple cider vinegar (see notes)
- 1 cup (250 ml) raw honey, or to taste (see notes)
Method – if you have fresh elderberries:
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring fresh or frozen elderberries to a boil. Turn down to medium and cook until the berries are soft and have released their juices, approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Cool slightly. You should have about a cup of juice.
- Measure juice and add equal parts apple cider vinegar and raw honey. Stir well until honey dissolves.
- Pour into a jar and cover with a plastic lid, or place a piece of parchment under the metal lid to prevent corrosion. Store in the refrigerator for 6 months to a year.
Method – if you have dried elderberries:
- Warm apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof glass jar.
- Add dried elderberries and raw honey. Stir to combine, then cover with a plastic lid or place a piece of parchment under the metal lid to prevent corrosion. It’s okay if your honey doesn’t fully dissolve right away, it will over time as you continue to shake it.
- Place the mixture in a cool, dark area (like a cupboard) for 3 – 4 weeks. Shake every other day to infuse the mixture and help the honey to dissolve.
- Store in a sealed container in the fridge for 6 months to a year.