Elderberry Syrup: An Immune Booster

Elderberry Syrup Master Recipe Makes about 20 oz

Flavorful and sweet, elderberry syrup can be added to smoothies, herbal teas, mixed drinks, and fermented sodas, or diluted into hot water or cold sparkling water. For a visually appealing and tasty treat, drizzle this dark magenta syrup onto yogurt, ice cream, custard or cheesecake. It also tastes great spread on pancakes and waffles, or used as cookie fillings. 

Elderberry syrup can also be taken straight by the tablespoonful for nutritional and therapeutic support. Elderberries are rich in iron and bioflavonoids, and are an immune system tonic. They are helpful in preventing infections such as colds and flus; however, if already infected, they help us move through the illness.

To help with proper identification and harvest, please see our illustration below.

Elderberry identification page from our Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book link:  http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q

Elderberry identification page from our Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fully ripe elderberries, stems removed (weighs about 23 oz). When fresh elderberries are not available, I use frozen ones.

  • 1½ cups maple syrup or honey (I prefer maple syrup as I usually don’t cook honey.)

Optional ingredients:

  • Add one or a combination of the following freshly ground, dried spices: 1 teaspoon aniseed, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, or 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1 lime, zest and juice

Elderberries and maple syrup simmering on the stove.

Elderberries and maple syrup simmering on the stove.

  1. Mix elderberry, sweetener and optional ingredients in a nonreactive 2–3 quart pot, cover, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove lid from pot and gently simmer mixture for 5 more minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and purée mixture with a hand-held immersion blender or food processor.

  4. If you would like the syrup to be smooth and seed-free (which I recommended), strain it through a fine-mesh sieve.

  5. Use right away. Or, to store, pour hot syrup into very clean glass jars, cap with tight fitting lids, label, leave out at room temperature to cool, then store in the refrigerator where they should keep for at least three months. For longer storage, freeze the syrup or seal in a hot-water bath.

Elderberry syrup in jars.

Elderberry syrup in jars.

Recipe excerpt from our Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by (me) Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q


 


Chickweed: A Weedy Super Food

Hooray, CHICKWEED (Stellaria media), a weedy super food — free, abundant, and available — is back in full swing. This lovely little friend is so nutritious: high in Vit. C, beta carotene, iron, calcium, etc. She is mild and tasty. Perfect for salad, in wild green pesto, lightly steamed, or added to soup during the last few minutes of cooking. She likes moist rich soil and will grown in full sun to part shade. Look for her in gardens, lawns, meadows, woodland edges, and waste places. The image of chickweed below is a "plant map"  from our book from my book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Hopefully it will help you to identify chickweed accurately throughout the growing season. Good luck! 

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

Black Walnut

Now is the time for harvesting and processing black walnut (Juglans nigra of the Juglandaceae family). The green hull will go into organic cold pressed olive for a therapeutic anti-fungal oil-come-salve and the musky-flavored nut meat will go into our mouths. Prized for its wood in furniture-making, this large, native Eastern North American tree can be found growing in USDA zones 4-9. Now is the time for gathering these fallen fruits. Free Food & Free Medicine!

A basket of black walnuts gathered last week from the ground under the tree.

A basket of black walnuts gathered last week from the ground under the tree.

Processing black walnuts: the crime scene.

Processing black walnuts: the crime scene.

The green hull removed from the nut shell with a simple paring knife. This part will be used for making medicine. BTW, the green hull begins to brown as soon as it is cut open and comes into contact with the air.

The green hull removed from the nut shell with a simple paring knife. This part will be used for making medicine. BTW, the green hull begins to brown as soon as it is cut open and comes into contact with the air.

The black walnuts after their green hulls have been removed. At this point they can be spread out and left to dry to be eaten in the future or they can be eaten right away...... 

The black walnuts after their green hulls have been removed. At this point they can be spread out and left to dry to be eaten in the future or they can be eaten right away...... 

Technique: cracking the nut open with a stone. If you want to get fancy, friends of mine who love eating black walnuts own the  Hunt's Black Walnut Nut Cracker , available from Northern Nut Growers Association. FYI, even with this tool, shelling the nuts is a slow, meditative affair. An even fancier option is the  World's   Best Nut Cracker   — heavier duty, more expensive, and faster output.

Technique: cracking the nut open with a stone. If you want to get fancy, friends of mine who love eating black walnuts own the Hunt's Black Walnut Nut Cracker, available from Northern Nut Growers Association. FYI, even with this tool, shelling the nuts is a slow, meditative affair. An even fancier option is the World's Best Nut Cracker  — heavier duty, more expensive, and faster output.

A close up of a cracked black walnut: the white flesh is the edible part and needs to be removed from the shell.

A close up of a cracked black walnut: the white flesh is the edible part and needs to be removed from the shell.

Stone for cracking; nut shell remnants (to compost); and nut meat to eat.

Stone for cracking; nut shell remnants (to compost); and nut meat to eat.

The yellowish-white black walnut meat ready to eat. Can be used instead of other nuts in cooking.

The yellowish-white black walnut meat ready to eat. Can be used instead of other nuts in cooking.

Don't forget to wear gloves when working with black walnuts as they have a strong dye that will stain your hands; the staining lasts up to three weeks.

Don't forget to wear gloves when working with black walnuts as they have a strong dye that will stain your hands; the staining lasts up to three weeks.