Some time ago my husband noticed some elderberries growing wild behind his work place.
We weren’t positive what they were at first, but upon researching and positive identification, we discovered what a treasure we had found.
Elderberries are very potent against colds and flu, and we had already been using this wonderful elixir in previous years to help keep our immune systems strong.
Turns out these berries are very prevalent where we live, as we saw more after we picked this batch.
NOTE: Make sure to pick only the dark purple/black ones, as the red ones are said to be toxic.
Here’s what I did with the box we gathered. I made elderberry syrup, frozen blocks, and extract/tonic.
For the syrup and frozen blocks, I first placed the berries, stems and all, in the freezer. I had read that this would make the berries easier to remove from the stems. It worked well, and I had my helpful entourage help me pluck the berries (which they were happy to do!).
After plucking them off, I then washed them thoroughly in a colander. Then I just covered with water in a saucepan, bringing them to a boil. I cooked them until they were soft and the whole mixture was very dark purple (almost black).
Next came the very messy part! I pressed them through the strainer, but I got a lot of seeds through, since my strainer is not fine. I then used a screen-type strainer with cheese cloth layered in it to strain out the rest of the seeds. Everything that the berries came in contact with became dark purple – so beware!
I then canned 3 pints of this elderberry juice/syrup and filled 2 ice cube trays as well. After the ice cubes were frozen, I popped them out and sealed them in a freezer bag. These will be handy to add to hot tea in the winter to add flavor and immune-enhancing properties.
I also made an elderberry extract/tonic with vodka. This was more simple, as it didn’t require any cooking or straining. I simply plucked and washed the elderberries as above. Then I filled a quart jar halfway with elderberries, followed by vodka added to the top.
This mixture sat in a dark place for about a week until it was very dark in color. I then strained out the berries and added 1/3 cup sugar, shaking vigorously. I then returned it to the dark cubbard.
Over the next couple days, I checked on it and shook it again as needed. It was ready for drinking after 2 weeks, but will last indefinitely without canning or refrigeration (as the vodka preserves it). I plan to drink a small amount when feeling “under the weather.” In order to remove all or most of the vodka, it can be added to a hot drink as well.