Each autumn — typically in tandem with the changing foliage, the appearance of pumpkins on porches and stoops and the consideration of Halloween costumes (My husband is vying for our almost two-year-old son to be “Assistant Groundskeeper Carl Spackler,” Bill Murray’s character from the film Caddyshack!) — I get the sniffles. And the sneezes. Brought on by seasonal allergens, this is a conundrum I’m well equipped to deal with, having devised a litany of treatments over the years. What also looms large, though, and what I’ve managed to stave off for years, is the flu.
Oh, that most dreaded of afflictions. It’s flu season, and it’s never a good time, should the malady pay you or yours a visit. For today’s Small Measures, I’m sharing with you my secret weapon in my flu-fighting arsenal. My go-to means of keeping this seasonal nasty at bay is a daily dose of my Elderberry & Honey Syrup. Packed with immune-bolstering properties, this delicious concoction is incredibly easy to make and considerably less expensive than purchasing any of the prepared options that are commercially available. Best of all, kids like it, too! While I can’t promise you won’t get sick, I can guarantee that you’ll be giving yourself and your loved ones a one-up on the competition and a serious fighting chance at staying flu-free. — Ashley English
Check out the recipe after the jump . . .
Elderberries have been used for health and healing for centuries. Recent research has proven what folk healers have long known: the dark berries are powerhouses. Their inherent antioxidant properties, coupled with high levels of bioflavonoids, pack the berries with immune-enhancing abilities. Married with honey’s healing benefits and laced with the antibacterial qualities of cloves, cinnamon and ginger, the berries go from Peter Parker to Spiderman, Clark Kent to Superman.
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup dried elderberries*
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 knob of ginger, peeled (about a 1-inch piece)
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 cup honey
*Many natural foods stores carry elderberries in their bulk sections. You can also purchase them directly from Mountain Rose Herbs, my favorite herb supplier.
1. Combine the water, elderberries and spices in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the syrup reduces by about half.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Set aside.
4. Fill a bottle with the honey. Using a sieve placed over a funnel, strain the syrup into the honey. Use a spoon to press against the berries, extracting as much of their juice as possible. Discard or compost the solids.
5. Place a lid on the bottle. Shake vigorously to fully combine the syrup with the honey.
6. Label the bottle and place it in the refrigerator. Use within several months.
The dose for adults is 1–2 teaspoons daily and a 1/2 teaspoon for children. Do not give to infants under the age of one due to the minor threat of botulism exposure. Herbs are medicine, as are all foods, really. As such, if you are pregnant or taking other medications, check with your doctor before taking this syrup to rule out any contraindications. Additionally, this recipe isn’t intended to treat, diagnose, cure or replace medical care.
What about you? Have any flu-fighting tips of your own? I’d love to hear them! Otherwise, here’s wishing you a healthy, happy home this autumn.
Photos and styling by Jen Altman