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  1. Freezing elderberries first, works well! They come right off the stems when frozen, with minimal effort. I always have my cupboard stock with elderberry tincture at the beginning of winter. At the first signs of a cold of flu coming on, my family will ask for the magic concoction, which is teaspoon of elderberry tincture, tablespoon of honey, juice of 1/2 fresh lemon and a cup of warm water. We rarely have to use anything else.

    • I love that other people do this. It makes me feel less crazy! It is hard to get people to try the tincture and by the time they need it they are pretty sick. I do believe it helps!

  2. I have been making & using Elderberry tincture since the ark landed!! My grandmother was an herbalist/midwife in the western North Carolina Blue Ridge mountains. NO ONE in her very extended family died in the 1918 flu pandemic….Elderberry tincture made with homemade corn liquor & honey was what she prescribed. My family & former employees love the Elderflower champagne. The jelly was one of my best sellers at my little stand beside my side door. Was there for over 30 years & was run on the honor system. I loved the comments…….Ellie

    • That is so awesome. Sometimes I wonder if I am crazy for believing so much in it but when I stop taking it, I get sick. I love your story, Ellie and of course your long ancestral experience with this!

    • I dearly loved my Granny (my Dad’s mother.) My Mother’s much younger brothers loved to visit her every Saturday afternoon to do chores for her. The first time my husband & I visited my Mother’s youngest brother, after supper they went out onto the porch to sit in the swing & look at the beautiful view while my Aunt & I were cleaning the kitchen. The window from the kitchen onto the porch being open, I overheard my Uncle telling my husband what a great “old timey” cook Granny was. He said, “But there’us one thang about it, you shore didn’t want to go around Granny a lookin’ ary bit puny. Cuz she’d hev you down & dosed with some uv the awfulest tastin’ stuff ever wuz!!” He said it was worth it though, just to get to sleep in Granny’s feather beds.

  3. I came here for the recipe, then realized flavor-wise anise seed would add a nice compliment to the elder. Then I checked to see what medicinal properties anise may have and sure enough expectorant was listed along with diuretic and appetite stimulant. Sounds like a good addition to the tincture or the cough syrups being mentioned in the comments. I only had about a tablespoon of seeds left, but wouldn’t have added much more than that anyway since they seem so strong.

    • Well, what I do know about anise is that it is an excellent digestivo (great for digestion). It is often used as a base for after dinner liquors in the Mediterranean (think Sambuca, Galliano, Ouzo). I am not a fan of its strong licorice flavor but would be interested in making a separate anise tincture. Thanks for the inspiration there.

    • Good to know. I am not allergic to poison ivy (wooo) so it more than likely works in a similar way depending on the person/species of plant/amount.

    • When food ferments it changes digestion, like cheese, yogurt, wine. I would also think the alcohol content would make for a change in digestion.

  4. I have used elderberries over the last few years, mostly for making jelly. I have dried them in my dehydrator on the stem and then knocked them off to store. I also have frozen them and then the berries do come off much easier. For making jelly, I take off all the big stems and then put the elderberries in a pan with a little water. I use a low heat until the berries release their juice. I then press on the berries to release as much juice as possible and then then drain over the pan. I compost the berries and stems that are left. This way I get a good amount of juice but don’t have to de-stem the berries.
    Thanks for the recipe for the tincture, I believe I will make some this year to supplement our other flu remedies. Interesting article and good information!

  5. Ifind pulling elderberrys from trees sometimes can a bit painfull I have two skined shins today as the ladder sliped from elder bush Last year ladder sliped and I had to jump ten feet Iwas sore for one month after ,but the taste of the elderberry jelly is worth all the pain

  6. Now, do you have a secret trick to getting them destemmed? Mine took four days last year and I had a big purple spot (ahem, HUGE purple spot!) on my carpet. I didn’t get any this year because I figured that buying the bottled stuff, although expensive, was better than dealing with the work. LOL! No, it’s really sad.

    • Oh no! Craziness! So, I was warned by my grandpa of this venture but I must have lucked out, seriously.

      The secret? I (de)stemmed while watching Hulu on my phone. Yup. 🙂 I was able to get a few pounds done in an hour. I placed the stems over a big metal bowl and gently pulled them off, throwing the spent stems in a bag. They key though was rinsing them three times in the bowl and skimming off floaters. Though technically, with the tincture you can get away with little stems. For the pie, less so.

      Perhaps the secret is distraction, AnnMarie!

    • Sambuccol saved my life 2009. I have M.S., many years, Fibromyalgia, not so many, and caught regular flu then H1N1. I was SO SO SOOOO sick! Then 4 wks to the day, I had H1N1 again. Gal at health food store in another city i wS visiting, had me try it. I felt better in 2dsys. I took bre pollen with it and 2days later i was cleaning my house. Then my doctor pretty much made me get the H1N1 vaccine. Was tbst ever stupid! Got it again! But this time i was on it. Elderberry tincture, organic honey, Kombucha (probiotic drink), and i recovered fast. So fast, it seemed like a bad, stupid dream! I swear by that stuff now.

    • I have read that if you put the whole stems with berries in the freezer for a few hours or overnight, when you take them out the berries basically fall off the stem. Haven’t tried it yet, so curious to hear whether it works!

  7. We love elderberry here & thankful my hubby bought & planted a bush in our yard so I can harvest every year. But we make a syrup 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried elderberries simmered in 3 cups water for 45 mins, then add 1/2 cup honey. Taking 1-2 Tbs every few hours. My 11 yo son will make up symptoms just to have some.

    • That is kind of really cute. Do you feel the strength of the syrup does work?

      Right now I just put a dropperful into tea at night or water each morning. Works for me as I need to “watch my sugar” but I would feel more comfortable recommending the syrup to most moms I know.

  8. Cannot think of recipe off the top of my head. Will transcribe it from my cooking notebook onto my blog sometime next week and send you a link.

    It really works well, and tastes absolutely delicious. A nice bonus!

  9. Interesting! My doctor agreed with me last year that elderberry syrup worked better than commercial treatments for coughs and colds. I do not distill in alcohol though, I found a recipe that cooks the berries with spices and a bit of sugar to produce a thick syrup. Much more palatable!
    Every year I make elderberry jelly which is used as a spread on toast/bread, an additive to yoghurt, a filling in tarts etc etc. Then there is also the elderberry booze which I add to mixers for those that like a tipple.
    You can buy capsules of elderberry extract at the pharmacy here in France. A good backup in the medicine cabinet as useful for so many ailments.
    Fabulous tree with so many uses!

    • I can’t believe someone in France is reading this. Oh. My. Goodness. Cool. Anyway, thanks for sharing Debbie. This sounds perfect for children or a nice treat with a benefit. Encouraging to hear a doctor supporting the syrup as well. Do you use half sugar and half water to make a simple syrup? How many elderberries do you add? This might be nice for readers who do not use alcohol!

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