Purple stained hands...check. Berries rolling on counters and floors...check ! Ok, so yes, I gushed over roses in June...and now comes my August foraging fave, ELDERBERRIES!
For many years the identification of this shrub, laden with berried treasure, eluded me. Not now. Plant eyes get geared up in June when Elder blooms. Notes are taken as to where my handy clippers will travel come late August. And, although the flowers contain their own properties, it is the juicy, purple goodness of the berries which we will focus on here. And, before we proceed, it is very important to note that these berries should not be consumed uncooked!!!!
Elderberry (Sanbucus nigra), is an antioxidant dream. The juice extraction, either in tincture or a syrup, is primarily used to support immune health. The bioflavonoids contained within have been known to destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. Using either as a way to boost immunity, or as a first line of defense, it is a valuable ally for harvest this time of year. Mother Gaia makes no mistakes with this wild wonder right now in order to prep us for the winter months ahead!
My preferred way to use elderberries is in syrup. From experience, the best syrup (according to a special 7 year old critic who has grown up on what he calls "Meme Juice"), is produced from fresh berries. This batch always gets a "10". Dried elderberries also will do, but the flavor doesn't seem as deep and rich. Drying elderberries is a very long process in the dehydrator. Because the syrup will keep fresh in the refridge for only a couple of months, I have been exploring other ways to preserve. One herbalist suggested canning, another freezing the fresh berries. Presently, there are several Mason jars in the freezer which contain enough berries to make a batch. Time will tell if they get a 10!
PROCESSING: Remove the berries from the stem by holding upside down and gently rake the berries with fingers into large bowl. You could also rake off with a fork. It isn't necessary to rinse off.
SYRUP: 1 cup fresh (1/2 cup dried) to 3 cups spring water. Let sit overnight in cold water bath. Next day, simmer slowly 30-45 mins. Allow to cool, strain and mash berries to extract all juice. Return to the pan, and simmer slowly again to reduce by about a third. This allows juice to thicken a bit. To the final reduction, add honey at about third of that amount. An ounce of brandy can also be added to help preserve. Be sure to refrigerate, and use within two months.
HOW TO USE: Tablespoon of syrup every day. Plain and simple. Can also add to mineral water (this is really good!), or to a white wine (my favorite here is a Portuguese wine, Vinho Verde). This creates what is known as a "kir".
HERBAL ALLIES LEVEL I
Participants have now completed five months of our seven month journey. It has been a great time of learning, growing, and communing with plants. The August class found us wading in tide pools, exploring the "garden of the sea", seaweed. Dates for the 2017 Level I class are coming together and all particulars, including dates, can be found on the website,www.earthoceanherbals.com and here. Registration is open to hold a space in this 2017 program.
Laverne and Jennifer exploring tide pools!
WATCH FOR THESE UPCOMING PROGRAMS...
*HERBAL ALLIES LEVEL I
*FORAGING FOR FOOD, MEDICINE, SKIN CARE - SPRING 2017
* ONE DAY OR EVENING PROGRAMS ON : CORDIAL MAKING,
SKIN CARE 101
*A LINEUP OF GUEST HERBALIST EDUCATORS TO EXPAND OUR KNOWLEDGE BASE
*ANYTHING SPECIAL YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT? SEND ME A NOTE!!!
AND IN THE TREATMENT ROOM
Need to replenish summer skin after beach days and lots of outdoor activities? A rejuvenating facial incorporating a seaweed mask could be just perfect to pick up the skin and put it back on track. Call today for an appointment....