Lush and Ripe
Celebrating elderberry season!
Walking in more than one Earthaven neighborhood in July, you would have enjoyed the dark, luminous clusters of elderberry hanging from both the older, taller trees and ones just beginning to bear. And while folks do harvest some of the white flower clusters earlier in the season, also enjoyed for food and medicine, it’s the berries that get folks out there with boxes and buckets.
This year, neighbors Susan and Bob Broadhead’s crop (at Full Circle) yielded many boxes and bags of goodness for families and herbalists across the watershed.
Soon, elderberry jams will appear, just for their deliciousness, and then the syrups, many doctored with favorite herbal extracts to boost the healing power of the berries, and to serve as season-changing tonics. Come Christmas, local herbalists will be selling a variety of healing concoctions made with elderberries. and those who haven’t made their own will be stocking up for Winter.
Varieties of Zev’s standard elderberry syrup recipe appear every year. What would you do with yours?
Zev’s Elderberry Syrup Recipe
For 10 pounds (or about 1.5 gallons) of berries:
Cook elderberries slowly, on medium low heat, about 2.5 hours, adding 1/8 to 1/4 cup at a time of the liquid from a decoction of:
1) Appalachian Reishi mushroom, 2 cups
2) Maitake mushroom, 2 cups
3) Chaga mushroom, 2 cups
4) Burdock root dried, 1 cup AND
5a) for a preventative syrup, you can add 1 cup astragalus OR
5b) for a syrup to take once you get sick, you can add 1 cup osha root.
You also need 190 proof alcohol, (raw) honey, and apple cider vinegar in these proportions of berries to alcohol to honey to vinegar: 4:2:3:1.
After straining the decoction, cover the remainder with alcohol and set aside. Cook elderberry mixture till skins turn mushy—the consistency of thick tomato soup. Strain skins and seeds through a sieve and add to mushroom-root-alcohol concoction. Cook the elderberry syrup to a consistency between tomato soup and maple syrup. Let cool just to body temp before adding the honey. Mix in the vinegar and alcohol—also using the alcohol from the soaked ingredients.