There is a chill in the air. The mornings are a bit crisper and the sun sets a bit earlier. Yellow, orange, and red leaves are popping up more and more. My tea is turning from fruity, sweet, and iced to hot, rich, and spicy.
Fall is in the air and in my cup.
With all of that comes back-to-school season (or in our case, home school season), and with back-to-school usually comes back-to-germs, colds and flu.
No need to fear though! This week we are sharing a secret weapon of how you can fight cold and flu season naturally. Not only will this super awesome berry syrup help you prevent colds and flu, but it will help kick any cold and flu you catch, to the curb, quicker and faster. This berry syrup is full of super berry goodness and one berry in the mix you may not even be familiar with.
Before we start:
This herbal information is just that, information. This blog post and I do not intend to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or illness. This is for informational, education and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before using herbs medicinally.
This post also contains affiliate links throughout. Translation: We get a little kick back for sharing certain products, at no additional cost to you, should you choose to purchase said items. And - thank you for supporting our farm and family! Read the full disclaimer here.
Elderberries are ripe for the picking all over the mountains here in Oregon. 'Tis the season to harvest elderberry! Elderberries dangle in large clumps from very tall trees on the sides of the roads and in a few years hopefully in our front yard.
Elderberries, known botanically as Sambucus Nigra, are a deciduous perennial "shrub" that sometimes turns giant tree. They produce small berries after sending out delicate white flowers from an umbel at the end of every plant branch. Elderberries form part of the adoxaceae plant family.
They are native to Europe, Africa and Asia though they have been naturalized to USDA zones three through seven.
Elderberries pack a sweet, yet bitter flavor and one that you will not want to try raw as the raw berry can make you sick. Berries should be cooked and, or steeped as tea before consuming. Also keeping in mind that while the black elderberry is edible the red elderberry is not. Some also suggest that seeds should be strained out. Something there is no need to worry about when using them in teas or the syrup we are making today.
Elderberries have a cooling and drying action to them. They boost of bio-flavonoids, vitamin c, antioxidant, antiviral, stimulating and anti-histamine properties. All excellent properties to have when warding off or fighting a cold and flu!
They are diaphoretic and promote sweating which can also aide in bringing down a fever. Elderberries stimulate the immune system, kicking it into high gear which is what makes it known for fighting off colds and flus. Stimulating the immune system before getting a cold and flu can also help in keeping them at bay to begin with. Elderberries also assist with respiratory infections which are so common during a cold.
They may be used to make tinctures and teas, but today we are going to dive into using them in cooking while making a simple syrup, or in this case a medicinal syrup.
While elderberries are fairly well known, aronia berries, also called chokeberries, show up a little bit less in mainstream information. We have been using them for years in our Harvest Berry, Barn Raising Tulsi Berry, and Aronia Plum Berry Tea Blends as well as our Rose Berry Kombucha Flavoring. Our friends at Mt. Hope Farms grow some excellent berries and it is our privilege to get to use them fresh and local in our teas! (Not to mention how we enjoy their fabulous, award-winning Blackberry -Aronia Berry Fruit Spread!)
Aronia berries are actually native to North America, and also grow on a shurb. They have smaller clusters than the elderberry, but the berries are much larger. Aronia's are a very firm, earthy tasting, berry not as juicy as the elderberry.
Medical News Today suggests possible health benefits of aronia berries may help prevent colon cancer growth, inhibit cancer cell growth in general, reduce cell damage due to breast cancer, contain anti-diabetic properties, reduce liver damage symptoms, and aide in artery and blood vessel health.
Add to all that goodness that aronia berries pack an additional nutritional punch of vitamins and minerals including: Vitamins C, B, K, iron, zinc and magnesium making them one beneficial super berry.
Aronia Photos by Mt. Hope Farms
Speaking of super berries, SuperBerries.com states that:
"Though the elderberry is the closest to the aronia berry in flavonoids and polyphenols, the antioxidant fighting compounds of the elderberry still don’t quite measure up to Aronia on the USDA Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC Scale. 100 grams of the Elderberry scaled in at 14,697 on the ORAC value scale, while 100 grams of the Aronia Berry scaled in at a whopping 16,062 on the ORAC value scale."
Wow! That says quiet alot for aronia berries.
The natives in this country use to use them to promote labor (so maybe not a great berry if you are expecting and sweet little baby is not ready yet), get rid of headaches, as a diuretic and to aide in fevers.
As you can see the combo of these two berries really makes a mighty duo.
I hear ya though, your ready for the deets! This awesome berry syrup is just what you are asking for and includes a few more medicinal herb ingredients to really give you a boost.
A real quick run down of the other medicinal herbs in this awesome berry syrup and then, I promise, the recipe!
Oh echinacea, how I love you, you boost the immune system at the first sign of illness and ward it off before it shows its ugly face. This herb has saved me from many an illness and I always keep it around, usually in a kid friendly glycerite like this one from Herb Pharm.
Orange peels, ick, yuck, blah! Not the part that most people eat from the orange. Did you know that the peel has more vitamin C than the orange itself? Yep! And the pith is actually great for lymph circulation. Orange peel is used in this recipe for its vitamin C content.
Astragalus is a lesser known root, used more in China than the United States. Astragalus is known as an adaptogen herb that helps to normalize functions in the body and aides in stress relief. It's also helpful in upper respiratory illnesses.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose that comes forth in the fall. These can be gathered from wild roses, though we usually buy them pre-dried and cut as they are easier to work with. Rose hips pack more vitamin C than an orange and make a great natural vitamin c supplement that aides in healing.
Cinnamon is a well known culinary herb that most people have in their baking cupboard. Cinnamon is a great anti-viral which is why it is part of our awesome super berry syrup recipe!
Cloves are also another strong anti-viral, probably more famous for the oral benefits that they provide. It's not just great at killing germs in the mouth, but also throughout the body.
So there you have it, our cold and flu fighting dream team!
1/2 cup dried elderberries
1/2 cup dried aronia berries
6 cups filtered water
1/8 cup cut & sifted astragalus root
1/8 cup cut & sifted echinacea root
1/2 cup dried orange peel
1/2 cup dried rose hips
1 tablespoon cinnamon bark chips
1 tablespoon dried ginger root
1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup local raw honey
Makes 64 Servings
Aronia Elderberry Syrup is just one tool in our cold and flu fighting kit. There are so many other wonderful herbs that we love to put to use in our home and we make sure that we keep a stash of them on hand. Many of those are included in our Growing Herbal Teas E-book as well as the ones that we use from Homesteading Family's Healthy Healing at Home free online course.
Share with us in the comments below your top 5 herbal must haves for keeping your family well and healthy! It's always fun to get new herbal tips and recipes!