This is my first ever harvest from my Elder tree, which I planted about six years ago so, as you can imagine, I'm quite excited about it. It's had berries before, but I've always been too late to harvest them or the birds have beaten me to them and I must admit I have used the flowers to make elderflower champagne.
With the flu season looming Down Under and elderberries said to boost the immune system and treat viruses including the flu virus, I want to make Elderberry Syrup to have on hand for myself and my family. As you can see in the photo the harvest is not a bountiful one so I've frozen the berries and I'm harvesting more as they appear and will keep freezing them until I have enough to make the syrup.
Only harvest the ripe berries (black) and don't use any green parts of the plant including the berries as they are said to be poisonous. After you've harvested the berries strip them from the stems, put them in a colander, rinse under running water and leave to dry before preparing them for the freezer.
To freeze the berries I laid them on a baking tray and left them uncovered in the freezer for a couple of hours then tipped them into plastic sandwich bags and returned them to the freezer. This is an easy and successful way to preserve them until needed.
1 cup fresh elderberries (or frozen) or ¾ cup dried berries
1 cup pure unprocessed honey (from a local beekeeper if possible)
3 cups filtered water (we are on tank water so I use filtered rainwater as we have an inline filter in the plumbing to the house)
Put the berries and water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour. Mash the berries then strain the mixture through cheesecloth or muslin into a ceramic or glass bowl. Leave until the mixture has reached room temperature then add the honey and gently stir it in until thoroughly combined.
Pour into amber glass bottles, label and store in a cool dark cupboard or in a refrigerator if you live in a warm climate.
Preventative Dose: 5 ml twice a day for adults and half that for children under 12
To Ease Flu Symptoms and Hasten Recovery: 5 to 15 ml two to four times per day (half for children under 12)
Other conditions said to be treated by elderberries include: sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), chronic fatigue syndrome, and inflammation.