Saturday, February 22, 2014

On Surviving the Plague*

Ah, February.  It’s that lovely in between sort of time of year; the snow is melting, temps are fluctuating madly with spring’s quick approach, and all around me is the sound of…….coughing.  And sneezing.  And then there is the  general lingering presence of a vast, VAST overabundance of mucus.  Blech.
***An Obligatory Disclaimer and Cautionary Statement***
I am not a healthcare professional, and I hope that you guys know that you should never take the word of some random chick on the interwebz in regards to….well, anything really, but definitely when it comes to your health.  So, do your research, and remember that natural medicine is not without its quirks.  You never know when something will trigger an allergic reaction, a drug interaction, or just generally not agree with you.  Just….be careful, ‘kay?

Anyway, my go to thing for recovering from the plague**, is Elderberry Syrup.  Great for boosting the immune system to avoid becoming sick in the first place (don’t think for a moment I’m not regretting that bit of procrastination right now), and unlike most cold/cough syrups, this one is actually pretty tasty. 

I’ve always had a good result with the various premade store bought syrups, but, holy crap, are they expensive!   Plus, this is a natural medicine that could not be easier  to make at home.  After trying several recipes over the years, I’ve been left generally unsatisfied, mainly because of the insane level of sweetness most of the syrups impart.  So, how do you cut the sweetness and still have the end result be “syrupy”?  Blueberries!  Subtly sweet, and similar to the elderberries in that they are also high in antioxidants and vitamin C, bluerries  also contain enough pectin that it seemed to be the perfect solution to replace a great deal of the honey. 

Oh, one last note, I really like to add whiskey to my syrup, both because it can help to break up mucus and to improve the shelf life.  It is, of course, entirely optional, and you would likely want to leave it out if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, or making this for kids. 
Elderberry Syrup

1/2 c. dried organic elderberries
2/3 c. frozen organic blueberries
3 c. water
1/3 c. raw (preferably local) honey
1 oz. whiskey (optional)
Combine elderberries, blueberries, and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat until gently simmering, and cook until the mixture is reduced by half (20 to 30 minutes).  Remove from heat and carefully strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, smooshing as much moisture from the berries as possible.  Discard solids (your backyard birds will be incredibly happy with you if this ends up under their feeder).  Set syrup aside, and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the honey and whiskey.  Transfer to a bottle with a tight sealing lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Approximately 16 oz.
Daily, to boost immune system: 1 tsp.
To help get over cold/flu: up to 3 tbs. over 24 hours
*It’s probably not actually the plague.
**Almost certainly not the plague....