This elderberry extract is the one thing you’ll want to have in your medicine cabinet when you feel a virus coming on. Elderberry is packed with vitamins and has been known for its ability to alleviate respiratory problems. Healing Herbs shows you how to make an incredible tincture that will keep you and your family healthy through the winter.
Elder bushes seem to pop up everywhere in fields, meadows, and suburban yards. This generous plant is spread by birds and animals eating the berries and dispersing the seeds. Unassuming, delicate, frothy flower heads in spring and early summer are followed by jewel-like garnet to black berries. A delicate floral scent wafts on the breeze. Elder was preceded only by chamomile when I first set about to find useful wild plants, so elder and I go way back. It would be unthinkable now to face winter without a good supply of elder’s bounty.
Elder has been an amazing ally to humanity from before recorded time, but there is vast and conflicting lore associated with the plant. Depending on who does the telling, the elder plant is considered either protective or dangerous. For instance, elder can protect one from witches or the wood can become a magic wand. Various sources explain that the wood repels lightning, while others say that it draws lightning. Nearly all ancient writings consider the plant to be female and suggest that you ask the old lady within for permission before harvesting. Branches of elder wood have long been used for flutes and similar musical instruments because the outer bark encircles a soft pithy center that is easily hollowed.
Elderberries and elderflowers have been used medicinally for colds and flu for many generations. Some early recorded instances of the berries date to ancient Greece. Some herbalists prefer to use the flowers, while others swear by the berries, but either way, this plant offers us great benefits. In the eastern United States, the S. Canadensis variety is the wild bush found in meadows and woodlands, while on the West Coast, the wild berries are coated with a pale blue powdery blush. That variety is S. cerulean (sometimes also known as S. Mexicana). There are many cultivars. All of the purple-black berried varieties are considered to have similar properties. Around the world, there are various traditional dishes and beverages based on both the elderflower and the elderberry. Elderberries can be found in parts of Europe, Asia, South America, and most of the Northern Hemisphere, with many varieties being represented, depending on the location.
Fill your jar with about 1 cup of dried elderberries, cover the elderberries with the alcohol, and put the lid on. After 6 weeks, strain the elderberries with a fine mesh strainer or thin kitchen towel and then pour the elderberry extract into your dark dropper bottle.
Dried or fresh elderberries
Menstruum (vodka or alcohol of choice) to cover
If using dried material, fill a 1-pint (470 ml) jar one-third full before adding liquid (menstruum is the technical term for the solvent or carrier used in an elderberry extract, tincture, or elixir). If using fresh herbs, fill loosely to the top.
Pour berries in your glass jar, either to half or more (this is not an exact science, obviously...)
Slightly mash berries (if fresh). (This is an optional step.)
Leave in a dark place for 6 weeks, stirring occasionally.
Elderberries are also rich in antioxidants, so they provide anti-aging benefits to your body as well. The rich purple color is from anthocyanins. They're anti-inflammatory. This little berry has a lot to offer.