Making Elderberry juice is the fastest, easiest and most pure processing method for maximum immune health benefit. Before I bought a steam juicer, this is how I made elderberry juice: Place an amount of frozen berries on a baking sheet to scan for unwanted visitors, and to remove any remaining thicker stems. Place cleaned berries in a stainless steel pot with no other ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer for five or ten minutes, or just until the berries look 'tired.' (Most recipes suggest strong boiling to remove toxicity of seeds, but my experience is that a gentle simmer up to 110 degrees F is enough, and overcooking compromises the nutritional value.
Once cooled, mash the berries with a potato masher and pour through a sieve, cheese cloth, or cone strainer. I typically use a sieve and the flat bottom of a jar to extract the juice. My first pressing is the pure juice. After the first press, the mash starts to become dry, so I add a bit of water for a second, even third pressing. Pour strained juice into ice-cube trays. Freeze and transfer ice cubes to zip lock bags for fresh immunity-building juice all winter long.
Elderberry Juice 102: Steam juicing -- the European Way For centuries, Europeans have foraged for elderberry each fall and used a steam juicer to process berries and/or fruit into juice for the winter. I finally decided to try it in the fall of 2016. After much research and one product return, I settled on the Norpro Steam Juicer from amazon ($100), and I've never looked back. The old mother country still has a lot to teach us here in the wild frontier! So simple and efficient. The best part is the berries are steamed, not boiled, and the juice filling your sterilized wine bottles or Mason jars is hot enough to seal without additional water baths, making the berries minimally processed and optimally healthful. The steam juicer is divided into three compartments, or vessels. To start, I fill the bottom compartment with water. When it is simmering hot I place 5 lbs. of berries in the top compartment. Within about twenty minutes, the juice comes out of the hose in the middle compartment, and runs into my sterilized bottles or jars.
After several seasons of experimenting with recipes for syrups, juice and tonics and more, this is what I've learned:
Steam juicing is the easiest and most optimal way to reap the health benefits of elderberry and/or aronia
Elderberry (and/or aronia) Shrub is a must-have tonic spanning the spectrum from medicine to cocktails (see below)
Incorporating a few loose frozen berries into pies, baked goods, salads, and more adds color, texture, health and excitement to familiar recipes
I have made and used preparations with the ripe berries. After I clip a basketful of berry clusters, I sit on the deck and remove the individual berries from the stems and collect them in a large cooking pot. This job can be tedious – like shelling peas or cleaning fiddleheads – or it can be peaceful and meditative. Rainbow Farm, a sheep farm in Maryland, says on its Web site (http://mywebpages.comcast.net/rbfarm) that the berries can be removed directly from the bush with a large, wide-toothed comb with a handle. Hang a pail from your neck, hold a berry cluster in one hand, and comb the berries off the stems into the pail. You may have to comb the cluster repeatedly to get all the berries; trying to remove too many at once will result in more stems coming off with the fruits. (Stems can interfere with winemaking.) The Web site describes other methods for harvesting berries.
After washing and draining the berries, I pour a small amount of water into the pot and bring it just to a gentle boil. After they’ve cooled a bit, I mash the berries just enough to break some of the skins, and then ladle them into clean quart jars to about three-quarters full. Then I fill the jars with 80-proof vodka, cap them with screw top lids, label them with the date and shake each jar to mix the berries and vodka thoroughly. They rest in a dark corner for four to six weeks, getting shaken every couple of days until it’s time to strain them – a somewhat messy job. (Don’t wear your best shirt or jeans!) The resulting dark red liquid is elderberry tincture or extract. I use a teaspoonful in water three or four times a day when I feel the first signs of a cold, flu or pollen allergy.
The tincture retains its potency for at least two years. I also make a batch using vegetable glycerin for family members who don’t want to use alcohol – especially grandchildren – but the glycerin-based tincture should be used within a year.
You can make a tincture from dried elderberries in case your supply of fresh berries is suddenly eliminated—as mine was one year when the town mowing crew chopped down a huge old bush near the dam on Keywadin Lake. (Parts of it came back, giving a good harvest the past two years. I now remind the town crew every August not to cut that bush. We’ll see.) The year that I used dried elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon, I soaked them in water before doing the rest of the process. The tincture seemed fine, but I’d rather forage for my own locally grown berries. (You can also find dried elderberries at some food co-ops.) If anyone wants the benefits of elderberry tincture without the bother of making it, it is now available as Sambucol or as other, locally-made tinctures (such as Avena Botanicals, avenaherbs.com)
Shrub is an ancient term for a vinegar tonic that dates back to pre-colonial times. Fruit shrubs were taken on board cargo ships as a way to keep fruit preserved for long voyages, allowing sailors to reap the healthful benefits of fruit plus apple cider vinegar. It is often preserved with lemon, vinegar or alcohol, so it can cause one to perspire, which is cooling in the summertime. Shrubs are made with fruit, apple cider vinegar (ACV) and honey. They are a wonderful remedy for congestion and sore throat, and make an excellent tonic for the body. Almost any fruit can be used. Adding spirits, such as rum, brandy, or vodka takes the tonic to whole new level. of health and pleasure. What I like about the elderberry shrub is its versatility. It is medicine when taken straight by the tablespoon full, and pleasure when mixed with sparkling water, Pellegrino or Prosecco, a dash of lime juice, bitters, vodka or rum. As a refreshing summer drink, an elderberry shrub tonic can't be beat -- a great way to take your medicine! I like shrub tonics so much that I drink them year round as my mocktail or cocktail. The recipe I like is basically a 1 : 2 ratio of fruit to apple cider vinegar. After fermenting and straining pulp, add the same amount of honey as ACV, or honey to taste.
• 2 cups elderberries • 1 quart apple cider vinegar • 1 quart honey, or sweeten to preferred taste Optional: spices, such as star anise or ginger, cloves, cinnamon
1. Wash and pick over the berries. Put berries in a nonreactive stainless steel pot. Pour vinegar over berries, cover and bring to a low simmer for 20 min. to half an hour; or until the berries look dull and 'tired.' Remove from heat and let stand overnight, or up to 2 weeks as the vinegar becomes totally infused with the berries.
2. Mash fruit vinegar pulp, and strain through cheesecloth or muslin; or extract juice by pressing or squeezing with hands until the pulp feels dry-ish.. Add honey and blend well. Bottle in dark sterilized glass jars with non-metal lids. Label contents in bottle; keep out of reach of children. I sterilize and use the quart size ACV bottles.
3. Store in a cool, dark place. Use within 1 year.
Elderberry Oxymel If you appreciate the flavor and health benefits of honey and apple cider vinegar, consider both shrub tonics and oxymels, another vinegar sipping drink. See Mountain Rose Herbs http://mountainroseblog.com/herbal-oxymels-methods/ for an oxymel recipe for – "from the Latin oxymeli meaning 'acid and honey' has been made and used in many ways throughout the ages and it’s a recipe that can be adapted to suit your health and herbal needs." -- Mountain Rose Herbs
Liz Wiley's Elderberry Syrup 2 Quarts of fresh or frozen elderberries 1/4 oz. freshly grated organic ginger, or 2 Tbsp. dried 1/2 tsp. organic cloves 1 tsp. organic cinnamon Raw organic honey to taste
Harvesting the elderberries is the most time consuming part of making the syrup. You can harvest the berries by hand of with a fork. Recently, I saw a YouTube video and the person used a designated hair pick for the job that seemed to work really well. You want to do your best getting the berries off the stems, without getting too crazy about every little stem; you will be straining this mix in the end. -- Collect the berries in a pan and give them a rinse. -- Add water to your elderberries. For fresh or frozen berries use 1 : 1 cup ratio; for dried berries, use 2 : 1 ratio. -- Add ginger, cloves and cinnamon to the pot. -- Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes, allow cooling. Before straining the mix, I mash the berries to get the most out of them with a potato masher or wooden mallet. -- Strain the liquid through a sieve and compost the berries. -- Add raw local honey for maximum health benefits. Stir until well mixed and pour into sterile jars or bottles. -- Store in refrigerator.
Crockpot Elderberry Syrup from The Bailey Farm This is a variation on a theme, an amalgam of recipes and ingredients culled and blended into my own favorite crockpot method of making syrup. The benefits of using a crockpot are twofold: less water is needed, lower temperatures and no boiling required. Remember, elderberries need only to reach 130 degrees F to neutralize the toxic cyanides. The less processing, or cooking, the more potent the syrup and the more phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are preserved to keep you virus-free. Remember also, that the amounts of ingredients used are loose and adjustable to the amount of elderberries at hand, your individual taste for sweetness, and preference for added spices and herbs. Take the leap and experiment!
Ingredients 3 lbs. of fresh frozen organic elderberries 1/2 - 3/4 c. water 1 lb. at minimum, or more raw unfiltered honey to suit your taste and get the desired syrup consistency
Optional ingredients Fresh grated ginger root Piece of astragalus bark (natural tick repellent) Organic orange peel 2 tsp. vanilla, or vanilla bean Small chunk(s) of dried Chaga mushroom Cloves, nutmeg Hibiscus, chamomile, rosehips, nettle Turmeric, garlic, Habanero pepper Brandy, Cointreau (orange liquor) To make: Get the picture? You can add whatever spices, herbs, etc. you want to the foundation of processed berries. With the frozen berries and water in the crockpot, I start on high heat for about 4 hours. Then, I turn the crockpot to low, and add a piece of astragalus root because it provides powerful tick protection (I've had scores of bites and bull's eyes, but have never experienced symptoms other than the awful pain of the bite). If I have Chaga on hand, I also add that. I cook on low for an hour to infuse the juice with astragalus (and/or Chaga). Once cool, I stir in 1 - 2 lbs. of honey, add vanilla and a splash of brandy or Cointreau, both for flavor and preserving the syrup. Pour into blue or brown sterilized bottles, or sterilized mason jars, and store in the refrigerator for three months, or more. Take 1 Tblsp. daily for a delicate, earthy and highly potent anti-viral medicinal syrup. Adding 2 lbs. of honey yields 7 c. of syrup. With the pulp, I make tincture (see above Note About Tinctures) for an additional source of elderberry medicine.
Nancy and Michael Phillip's Elderberry Syrup as posted by Rosemary Gladstar This is one of the best syrup recipes, so rich and flavorful, high in nutrition.
Parts used: Flower and berry Key constituents: Vitamin C, vitamin A, bioflavonoids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, beta-carotene, iron, potassium, phytosterols Safety factor: Do not eat the raw (uncooked) berries in any great quantity, as they can cause digestive upset and diarrhea in some people. This may be one of the better elderberry syrup recipes on the planet. It’s graciously shared by my friends Nancy and Michael Phillips, the authors of The Herbalist’s Way. Delicious enough to use just for sheer flavor alone, elderberry syrup is also helpful for warding off or speeding recovery from colds and flu.
Ingredients: 2 quarts fresh ripe elderberries (see variations below for using dried berries) ¼ ounce freshly grated ginger root ½ teaspoon ground cloves Honey
To make the syrup: Combine the elderberries with ¼ cup of water in a large soup pot and simmer until soft. Strain out the pulp, reserving the liquid. Compost the solids and return the liquid to the pot. Add the ginger and cloves and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid reduces to about half its original volume. Pour the juice into a measuring cup and note its volume, then return to the pot. Add the same amount of honey and stir until thoroughly combined. Let cool, then bottle. Store in the refrigerator, and use within 12 weeks.
Elderberry Pie I have never had an elderberry-only pie, but I do love to sprinkle a few berries into my apple or pear pies for a splash of color and texture. 375-400 F for 15 min; reduce oven to 325-350 for one hour or until done. Ingredients 1 qt. rinsed fresh/frozen elderberries 1 c sugar 1 Tbsp. (heaping) flour Pinch of salt Butter Cinnamon 1 Tbsp. vinegar
To quart of berries, add sugar mixed with flour and salt. Add generous piece of butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, then add vinegar. Bake for 15 min. at 375 - 400 F. Reduce oven to 325-350 F and bake for one hour or until done. --http://www.cooks.com/recipe/70jl0th/elderberry-pie.html If the tiny crunchy elderberry seeds are not to your taste but you still want to enjoy the health benefits of this super-berry, consider using them as an accent in baked goods that call for other berries or fruit. For example, consider adding a handful of tiny elderberries for color and health to peach, pear or blueberry pie; apple, or rhubarb crisp.
Ada Mae's Elderberry Cake Makes one 8 x 8 cake; 350 F, 15-20 min.
Ingredients 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil 1 egg 1/2 c milk 1 c flour 1/2 c sugar 3 Tsp. baking powder 1/2 Tsp. salt
For topping 2 Tbsp. sugar 1 Tsp. cinnamon 1 Tsp. cloves 1/2 c fresh/frozen elderberries
Mix dry and wet in separate bowls. Add wet mixture to dry. Pour into greased and floured pan. Sprinkle topping mixture over cake. Bake and enjoy.
Culinary Overview "Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food" --Hippocrates Food into medicine, medicine into food. Use your imagination when it comes to elderberry and personalize the ways in which you incorporate these powerful berries into your diet. If you store frozen or dried elderberries as one of your household (medicinal and culinary) staples, all you need to know is that they can be:
Cooked down and strained to make juice, syrup, shrubs, elixirs, tinctures, teas and infused oils (flowers and/or berries). The more bitter-tasting aronia is best used medicinally only (syrups, elixirs, tinctures), and in some drinks such as hard cider, beer, wine and kombucha.
Added to cocktails as a main or supplemental ingredient, as in the form of shrub tonics, oxymels
Used to make jams, jellies, sweet and savory sauces
Sweet syrups for ice-cream, or savory syrups for pork tenderloin or lamb chops
Cordials (elder flower blossoms), wine, beer, hard ciders and kombucha
Added to almost anything you are baking, such as scones, muffins, fritters, pancakes, cookies, bars, cakes and pies
Once you become familiar with the culinary personality of elderberry, you'll follow your instincts to find as many ways as you can to add this power food to your diet.
"I had swine flu and tried everything, but nothing worked until a neighbor brought me some elderberry syrup, which wiped it out completely." -- M. Gannaway
In ancient times, the gypsies called the elder tree"the healing-est tree on earth."