With fall’s crisp mornings, bright pumpkins, and vibrantly colored leaves comes something not quite so romantic: cold germs. Fortunately, you can make your own powerful cold medicine that’s good for both preventing and taming colds. The essential ingredient? Elderberries.
You can find elderberries growing wild in early fall in most parts of the United States. Elderberries grow from trees in clusters of deep purple, round berries and pink stems. Elderberries have natural anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, and have a long history of medicinal use in Europe. If you can’t find fresh elderberries, do a search for dried elderberries and you’ll find many sources online.
Before you make your tincture, invest in some rubber gloves, as you’ll need to pull the berries off of the stems. This step is very important because the stems can be toxic. If you work with bare hands, the dark pigment in the berries will stain your hands, just like red beets. Removing the berries from the stems is the only time-consuming part of making the tincture, and you can avoid it by using dried berries.
This easy tincture tastes fruity and sweet when it’s done, and makes a nice gift at the holidays. I take a tablespoon of the tincture right when I feel a cold coming on, and then keep taking it every few hours until I feel better. It’s great to take before and after airplane trips because of all the germs floating around on board.
Elderberry Tincture Recipe
- 2 cups fresh or dried elderberries, stems removed
- 2 cups vodka
- 1 cup honey
- Place the elderberries, vodka, and honey in a clean glass jar. Shake well to dissolve the honey. Seal the jar tightly, and store it in a cool, dry place.
- Gently shake the jar once or twice a week. After 6 weeks, strain the mixture through several layers of cheesecloth, in order to catch the berries and any solids. Press the berries with the back of a ladle to extract all of the potent juice. Add the berries to cake or fruit compote, or discard. Store the tincture in clean glass bottles in the refrigerator. The tincture is good for up to 2 years.