Fight Winter Colds With Elderberries!I’m thrilled to feature a guest post today by Susan Hess. Susan is an herbalist, teacher, and proprietess of Farm at Coventry where she sells her own handcrafted herbal products. I’m taking her Seeds and Stars class this year, which has been just amazing! Susan infuses beauty into everything that she does. From the gorgeous bowls of harvested plants, to the beautiful pictures she takes, to the lovely labels she decorates her herbal products with.

Elderberries have antioxidant properties and they can help stimulate the immune system. Elderberriy syrup can ward off winter colds and flus. The syrup can also be served over pancakes as a special treat! It tastes so yummy your family will love this medicine.

(Tip: Flash freeze umbles with berries on to make it easier to get them off of their stems. Once frozen the berries will shake right off.)

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Simmer one gallon of fully ripened black elderberries (stripped from the stems) with ½ cup water in a large pot until softened. Strain the berries through a cloth, saving the juice and squeezing the cloth for more! Add ½ oz. grated fresh ginger root and 1 heaping teaspoon of whole cloves to the juice and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, add 1 cup of dry elder flowers to the hot juice and put the lid on. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain out the herbs, measure the juice and add an equal measure of honey. One part honey to one part juice. Reheat slightly and blend well. At this point, I add a few good ‘glugs’ of brandy to insure a longer shelf life. Pour into sterilized quart jars and be sure to refrigerate. Also freezes well. Yummmy!!

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Winter Elderberry Elixir

3 parts elderberries
2 parts fresh rosehips (seeded and chopped)
1 part dried elder flowers
1/2 part fresh ginger root (chopped)
1/2 part sumac berries (optional)
1/4 part cinnamon chips
1/4 part fresh organic orange zestelderberry elixer

I put the elderberries and rosehips in the bottom of the jar and covered with about a pint of local honey and gave it a good smushing. Then I layered the ginger, sumac berries, elderflowers, cinnamon and orange peel and covered the whole lot with brandy. I’ll let it steep a good 4-6 weeks before I strain it. We’ll use it along with echinacea tincture to help prevent cold and flu viruses this winter.

Elderberry Peach Chutney

Elderberry Peach Chutney

Many thanks to Tina from Essential Herbal for the inspiration for this recipe.
1 one medium onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
3 t olive oil
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 c white wine vinegar
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t each of cardamom, cinnamon, & freshly grated nutmeg
1 c elderberries
3 c sliced peaches
1 TB chopped lemongrass
1 c chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large heavy skillet or frying pan, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil slowly over low heat. Add the salt, vinegar, sugar and spices, and continue cooking until all are well blended. Add the fruits and nuts. Cook over low heat for 12-15 minutes, until the fruit is just starting to release juice. Don’t let it get mushy. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight before using to allow the flavors to mingle. It keeps for months if stored in a covered container and refrigerated. Too much juice? See below!

Elderberry Peach Cordial

Elderberry Cordial

We felt that this chutney recipe produced an abundance of juice. Too much to be called a chutney. At the risk of cooking it down more and losing the nice texture of the peaches, we opted to strain the spiced fruit juices and add some fine brandy to it. Oh yeah. An unexpected but very welcomed Spiced Elderberry Peach Cordial was created!elderberry cordial

Just for the record, I added the below picture here because I am questioned about this sooo often, it scares me. These are not elderberries…they are poke berries. Not edible, not useful…not safe. Leave them to the birds. Whatever you do, please don’t confuse them with elderberries. ‘Nuff said.

poke berries


Elderberry KitDon’t have your own elderberries? Try this elderberry kit from Earthley. Make your own herbal elderberry to ward off colds with our illness kit! Made with organic herbs. Comes with a recipe card. Just add water and raw honey!

Susan Hess   

is a 1996 graduate of the prestigious Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine‘s 2-year Herbal Practitioner’s Program in Washington, NJ.(Currently called David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies) She has also completed the schools 1-year Graduate program and studied extensively with director and ethnobotanist, David Winston AHG (Professional Member of the American Herbalist Guild)

In the past 20 years she has used her skills and training in the natural food industry and as a sales associate for Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc. of Washington, NJ. In 2000, Susan completed a clinical training at the Wellsprings Centre for Natural Healing in Fairfield, Connecticut with noted herbalists, Donald Yance, MH, CN, AHG (author of best-selling” Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer”) and Chanchal Cabrera, MINMH, AHG. She has also completed one year of apprentice studies with Jennifer Tucker, a well-known herbalist and author from Spring Mills, PA. 

Currently, Susan is the proprietress of Farm at Coventry, handcrafting a fine collection of herbal products since 1997. She sells her wares through local retail stores and craft fairs as well as through her website She thoroughly enjoys growing medicinal and culinary herbs in her teaching gardens, as well as raising heirloom vegetables and seed saving. Susan is fully committed to using growing and harvesting methods that protect and replenish the earth. After hosting a successful 6-month series of weekends with Minnesota herbalist and author, Matthew Wood in 2001-2002, Susan has continued to direct and expand her Class and Workshop Schedule of highly acclaimed teachers. Susan teaches her own delightful and informative 9-month course entitled “Homestead Herbalism” now in it’s fifteenth year along with seasonal herbal and homesteading classes in and around Pennsylvania.

All images used in this post are courtesy of Susan Hess.

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Fight Winter Colds With Elderberries!


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