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From Backyard to Bottle: a Holiday Gift

Make your own elderberry syrup

Picked elderberries

I find that the stems can add a bitter taste to the juice, so I pull the berries off before cooking. It takes a bit of time, but it's easy.

Elderberry syrup

To make the syrup "giftable," I poured it into 5-ounce jars and added ribbon and faux berries.

By Martha Turek

EVERY Christmas I like to make gifts for friends with something from my garden. In the past I've made salsa, corn relish, pesto and horseradish. This year, I decided to use the many elderberries on my two trees to make elderberry syrup.

I consider it to be a magical elixir and a natural remedy for colds and flu. The berries of the shrub (Sambucus nigra) are said to be naturally high in immune-boosting compounds that help prevent winter colds and flu.

To start, you need to juice the tiny berries. I take 1 cup of fresh berries to 3 cups of water, boil for 30 minutes, mash and strain. You will find many variations, but here's my recipe:

Elderberry Syrup

  • 2.5 cups elderberry juice
  • 1 cup honey (I use raw, local honey)
  • 5 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced

In a saucepan over low heat, bring juice to a simmer.

Add honey, vinegar and lime juice; stir to combine. Taste and adjust, adding more honey if needed.

Pur into large canning jars and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for two to three months.

As a preventive, I recommend 1 tablespoon daily. You can add it to juice or water; you can even make popsicles. It's easy to make, tastes great and is kid-approved.

Martha Turek gardens in northern Vermont, where she grows elderberries and other plants.

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