TEST OF ELDERBERRY SYRUP RECIPES

Author: Iva

When I am  making something for the first time, I usually decide to try out more different recipes to see which one works out the best. You will find 3 different recipes for making the syrup and after period of 1, 3 and 6 months, I will update the blog with results in stability, taste and efficacy. One bottle of each recipe I will leave in the basement (around 20 degrees during hot summer days) and another one I will store in the fridge. I am kind of sceptic of how stable will be the bottles storing at the room temperature, however honey and citric acid should work as preservatives. Stay tuned!

I am extra cautious when picking mushrooms and wild plants, therefore in this blog I also gathered plants that have similar berries to elderberries to avoid mistakes when picking them. NEVER pick up or consume fruits of wilderness if you are not 100% sure!

Today it was a nice sunny sunday, so I decided to go and see if I can find some elderberries (Sambucus nigra fructus) for elderberry syrup. The latter is a perfect traditional homemade remedy for cold as well as immune booster. Tiny, round elderberries (Sambucus nigra fructus) contain health benefiting anthocyanin antioxidants. Early settlers of North America were well acquainted with the medicinal uses of elder flowers and berries long before European explorers.

Elder is a magical tree and has multi purposes. Elder start to bloom between late april and june. Tea from the flowers works for sinusitis, colds, influenza (flu), swine flu, bronchitis, diabetes, and constipation. It is also used to increase urine production (as a diuretic) and to increase sweating. Berries are ready when they get their dark blue to violet color. BUT BEWARE! If you are not completely sure, that you are dealing with elderberries, don’t pick them. To be sure, check the the leaves and the berries precisely. If you see red berries, that one are for sure not the right species, so don’t pick them! If you have an option, it’s even better if you remember where you saw elder trees flowering in the spring and you go to the same spot.

 

Berries looking similar to elderberries:

Danewort (Sambucus ebulus)

The stems and unripe or uncooked berries of danewort (Sambucus ebulus) are toxic as they contain poisonous alkaloids and cyanogenic glycosides. The flowers and ripe fruit are edible but all parts of the plant are toxic if consumed in excess (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis 2003). Slovensko ime: smrdljivi bezeg

Alder buckthorn berries (Frangula alnus)

Berries will cause you digestive problems, vomiting, strong abdominal pains and bloody stools. Slovenian name: navadna krhlika

Wayfarer tree (Viburnum lantana)

Wayfarer berries (Viburnum lantana) are mildly toxic, and may cause vomiting or diarrhea if consumed in large quantities. Slovenian name: dobrovita

What about elderberries?

The dark purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripe state. All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides (Vedel & Lange 1960). My advice is to remove green unripe berries as well as the stems already while picking them, so you don’t have double job later on. I was picking berries in Prekmurje near river Mura in pristine nature. While picking, I removed the stems and the green berries. Since elder trees are usually growing near rivers, stream or swamps, these locations are often full of mosquitoes. To avoid mosquito wars that I experienced today, don’t forget the mosquito repellent 😉

Elderberries are edible after cooking and you can use them for immune boosting syrup, jam, chutney or something else.

Elderberries contain 87 percent of the daily value in vitamin C, and high amounts of vitamin A, potassium, iron, vitamin B6, fiber, and betacarotene.

High value of vitamins was my main concern when reading recipes that were making the syrup with cooking it for 30 minutes or longer. Somewhere back in my memory was that these vitamins aren’t stable at high temperatures. I did some research regarding vitamin C and came to interesting results. Some studies like this one from 2012 are saying that vitamin C is highly thermolabile and it denaturated with heating and proportionally to the time of heating. In another study from 2010 they concluded that denaturation of vitamin C is not related to heat, but to oxidation process. Based on this study, a thermal treatment above 70 degrees C is recommended for crushed vegetable products to prevent oxidation of l-ascorbic acid = Vitamin C to dehydroascorbic acid, the onset of vitamin C degradation. Let’s say that vitamin C is stable at high temperature, however vitamin A and B6 and not, if we believe this study.

What to believe now?? Is hard to say, I guess I will leave this decision to you.

I made the syrup by 3 different recipes, two of them I found on internet and one I made up myself J I think I will use the recipe without cooking next time. Perhaps the best way is also to prepare fresh syrup from dried berries every time you need it.

So let’s get to the recipes!

  1. by Mommypotamus

Ingredients:

– 2 cups of water

– 1 cup of raw local honey

– ½ cup of dried elderberries or 1 cup of fresh

– optional: grated ginger (1-2 tablespoons), cinnamon stick and cloves

for the taste and extra immune boosting properties

How to make?

  1. Place dried elderberries (or fresh, ripe elderberries if you have them locally), ginger, cinnamon or other dried herbs and filtered water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes. The liquid will reduce by about one-third.
  3. Remove pan from heat and mash the elderberries to release any remaining juice.
  4. Strain the mixture into a glass bowl using a cheesecloth.
  5. When the liquid has come to body temperature or lower (about 30 minutes), gently stir in the raw honey and mix thoroughly. Check the syrup with a candy thermometer to be sure it is lower than 118 F/ 48 C. Any higher will destroy the antibiotic properties of the raw honey.
  6. Store and label in small, glass, amber bottles.

 

2. by Shamanaflora

Ingredients (I made a smaller batch and reduced the amount of ingredients):

– 1 cup dried elderberries, I used 1 cup of fresh

– 1/4 cup dried elderflowers

– 1 tbsp ginger chips

– 1 tbsp cinnamon chips

– 8 oz or 225g water

– 4oz or 114g vodka

– 1 lemon, juice

– 8 oz or 220 g honey

 How to make?

  1. Mix all the dried herbs together in a jar.
  2. Pour 8 oz (225g) boiling water over the herbs, and 4 oz (114g) of vodka or brandy
  3. cap and let infuse 8 hours or overnight.
  4. In a muslin, jelly bag, or cheesecloth strain the herbs from the liquid.  Squeeze gently to get as much fluid from the herbs as possible.
  5. Add the juice of 1 lemon.
  6. Measure out exactly how much liquid you have in a glass measuring cup.
  7. Add an equal amount of raw honey or sugar to the liquid.  Mix well until sugar dissolves.
  8. Bottle and store. It will keep best under refrigeration.  If you wish to keep this in the pantry, you will want to use more alcohol in step 2 (4 oz (114g) of 50% vodka) to preserve.

Recipe by:

https://shamanaflora.com/2015/12/01/no-cook-elderberry-syrup/

TIP: To make fresh elderberry syrup when you need it, just pick the berries and dry them. If you use dry berries take in mind the weight difference, so take ½ or 1/3 of the amount of the fresh berries. If you didn’t have the time to pick them and would like to make the syrup by yourself anyway, I found the cheapest organic dried elderberries here.

3. by Divja

Ingredients:

– 1 cup of fresh elderberries

– 250 ml water

– 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

– 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon stick – grated

– 1 tsp cloves

– 0.5 cup elderflowers

– 120 g raw local honey

– 8 g citric acid

– Juice of one lemon

 How to make?

  1. Bring water to boil and add the spices (ginger, cloves, cinnamon). Leave it to cool
  2. When cool, add elderflowers, elderberries lemon juice and citric acid. Mash everything together with potato masher. Leave it infused overnight.
  3. Next morning strain the syrup through a cloth, add raw honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
  4. Sterilize the bottles in oven for 15-20 minutes at 120 degrees C.
  5. Pour the syrup into bottles or jar and store in the refrigerator.

Happy cooking!

Stay tuned for stability test and tasting!

From the forest, Iva

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