When I first visited this amazing Paonia, Colorado home in July of 2011, and was taken into the back yard, I fell in love. The grape bower made of old tree limbs, with a shady alcove to sit underneath -looking out at a rich garden plot beyond. And the towering bushes framing the garden, were loaded, LOADED with elderberries. More elderberries were found in the side yard, next to an Italian plum tree, lemon balm and mint below. And the next spring – as it did become my home – oh my what a gift. White clouds of elderberry blossoms and the magical whir of dozens of bees in bliss.
This must be bee heaven. And as the weeks went by, nature working it’s wonders, the elderberries flourished and the bushes began to droop with the weight of their ripeness. Elderberries (Sambucus species) are used around the world, medicinally, to enhance immune function and increase antibody response during infections. Due to high concentrations of lignans and flavonoids, they have antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity as well. They work extremely well in treatment of influenza and can be also used to treat upper respiratory infections. Literally all parts of this amazing plant have beneficial properties. No safety issues are known in their use. (from The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook – Everything You Need to Know About Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments: Alan Keith Tillotson)
I decided to make syrup from this incredible bounty. (I also decided, as you may remember from last summer, to make LUSCIOUS organic local Paonia peach and elderberry crisp….) I didn’t really follow a recipe for the elderberry syrup, or really have a precisely measured formula to offer you here now. But next summer, if you or a neighbor has an elderberry bush, and you procure some elderberries for your very own, if you wash them, and painstakingly de-stem all the little treasures – The Muddy Kitchen from the east coast wrote she uses an afro pic, much to my delight – then place them in a big pot with water to barely cover, and boil until very soft, strain, combine with a good local honey then bring to a gentle boil again, you will make syrup. Simmer awhile to reduce, jar up, and keep in the refrigerator to use as desired.
When I told my friend Jeff that I liked to pour my elderberry syrup on waffles, (maybe GINGERBREAD waffles….) he replied with this guttural exclamation of desire and lust I wish I could offer to you here. And then, there is the more bland but extremely valuable and probably paramount medicinal use, which I like to offer up as shots, just to make being sick more fun. And during the extremo flu season this winter, I am so grateful for that! Bless the elderberry. Any way you ingest them, you are receiving what they have to offer.
This morning, it’s a smoothie I’m drinking. Actually I’ve been making them several mornings now. I’m using peaches I froze last season, and I love this combination. Peaches, still slightly frozen. Almond milk. Cinnamon. And a good splash of elderberry syrup.