We’ve had a fairly mild winter this year (so far!) but we have had a few sudden temperature changes that have left us sniffling for a few days. Whenever I get a hint of a cold or flu coming on, I reach directly for this honey-sweetened syrup. Elderberry has an antiviral effect, while rosehips are very rich in Vitamin C. So far, it’s helped us ward off the worst of everything going around.
Before making any herbal remedy, I always consult an herbalist’s guide. My favourite is Susun Weed’s Healing Wise (her Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year is also my go-to handbook for herbal medicine for pregnant mamas). Another great book to have on hand is Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal. To make a syrup, we start by making a decoction, then reduce the liquid by half and adding a sweetener.
A quick note about ingredients – if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country where elderberries and/or rosehips can be foraged, hooray! Just be sure that you pick berries/hips that are not too close to the road, and wash them thoroughly before using. If not, I can’t recommend a better source than Mountain Rose Herbs. I get all my herbs, spices, and teas from them, and have never been let down. Everything they sell is either organically raised and fairly traded or wild-crafted. If you order through the links on this website, a small portion of the cost of your order will go to support this website, at no additional cost to you.
And now, the recipe…
1. Add the berries, rosehips, cloves, and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 2-3 hours. The liquid should be very dark purple – nearly black.
2. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, and return to the pot. Bring to a boil again, and reduce the heat. Simmer with the lid off the pan until the liquid reduces by half – it will also thicken somewhat.
3. Remove the liquid from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Gradually stir in the honey, to taste. You don’t want to do this while the liquid is warm, as it may destroy some of the beneficial enzymes the honey contains. I usually only use half a cup, but I love the tart taste of the berries and hips on their own. Some may opt for a sweeter syrup.
4. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge. When I feel a cold coming on, I’ll take a spoonful every few hours. It hasn’t let me down yet!