Elderberries: The Next Generation

Elderberries:  The Next Generation
I felt like I had taken a huge step in a positive health direction when I learned how to make elderberry syrup for my family.  I should have known, with three kids, that syrup would only be the beginning.

Don’t get me wrong, they liked the syrup fine.  My eldest, who is engaged in several different aspects of musical theatre, especially like it for her throat and voice.   However, they started seeing elderberry gummies in certain stores, and being kids, they were intrigued.

I started looking for recipes.  The molds were easy to find, and I ordered a three-pack of star, heart, and seashell shapes off of Amazon right away … and they sat in the cabinet for several months because I couldn’t find a recipe that kept all the wellness benefits of elderberry syrup.  If I was using some of my precious time to make this recipe, why would I add artificial sugar or synthetic gelatin?  It simply made no sense to me.

My plan to make elderberry gummies was pretty much on a backburner, until one day, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a fabulous recipe!  Not only did it have elderberry syrup, but it was packed full of antioxidants, probiotics, and had an option for flavoring with additional wellness benefits.  I made the first batch that very same week, thinking those gummies would last for at least a 4-6 weeks.  Nope!  The whole family loved them so much, they were eating several a day, and who was I to complain?  A healthy snack that boosts the immune system is a win-win around here. 

Just when I thought I was on my A-game, my youngest child said, “It would be really cool if you could make gummy worms.” Okay, challenge accepted (thanks, once again, to Amazon.) 

I now make these on a regular basis, partly due to my eldest loving to share them with her theatre friends.  It’s great to hear all the feedback on how much the other youths love them and how great everyone is feeling.  

Elderberry Gummies
  • ½ cup elderberry syrup
  • 1 cup Ningxia Red
  • 2 T raw, local honey
  • 3 ½ T unflavored grass fed gelatin
  • 2-4 drops Vitality oil (optional, but our favorites are Orange or Tangerine)
  • 2 capsules of Life 9, opened and contents added (optional, but I highly recommend)
  • silicone molds
Heat elderberry syrup just until boiling.   Remove from heat, add Ningxia.   Quickly whisk in gelatin. (You will see recipes calling for more or less gelatin.  After several batches, this amount is what I found to work best, but feel free to experiment.) Whisk in remaining ingredients.  Add to molds (syringe works best), then put in refrigerator to set.  Once firm, store in fridge (we use mason jars.)  Enjoy! 

Did you miss the story of my elderberry syrup recipe?   You can find it here.

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Elderberries and a New Take on an Old Memory

Elderberries and a New Take on an Old Memory
I remember hot summer days, going out with my Granny to collect elderberries.  All I knew at the time was those berries were teeny tiny, we needed to pick a lot, and they stained your fingers.  Oh, and that I thought the jelly she made from them was one of the best things I ever tasted in my childhood.

Since it took so many elderberries to make a small amount of jelly, she used to save jars just for me.  I’m sure part of the reason was because I loved it so much, but I also remember her pulling it out in the winter and encouraging me to have a spoonful.  I didn’t think too much of it at the time … after all, Granny used her aloe vera plants on all my scrapes, cuts, and small burns (that I got from wanting to be underfoot and learn all her kitchen secrets), and she was the one who figured out I needed extra lysine to help with my reoccurring mouth ulcers.  If she thought I needed elderberry in the winter, I didn’t question it.  Plus, when it was served on one of her yummy homemade biscuits, hot out of the oven, who would say no??

Fast forward a few decades, and I started seeing elderberry syrup being touted as the “new” way to support your immune system.  I had to laugh!  And then I got a glimpse at the prices … now, I knew first-hand the labor involved in picking those little suckers, and the volume needed to produce a final product, but I still thought there had to be a less expensive way.

So I learned to make my own.

It has been a fun process, and I think Granny would have enjoyed it, too.  People tend to have their own favorite way of making elderberry syrup, so feel free to experiment!  This is the recipe I developed that works best for my family:

Instant Pot Elderberry Syrup
  • 1 cup dried organic elderberries
  • 4 cups water (filtered is best)
  • 1 cup raw organic honey (local will yield the best results)
  • 3-4 drops Thieves (or to taste)

  1. Place berries and water in Instant Pot. (If you have a stainless steel steamer basket for your IP, that makes straining easier, but you can certainly cook without it.)
  2. Put lid on IP and place valve in sealing position.
  3. Select Manual and adjust time to 12 minutes.
  4. When the timer beeps for finished cooking, do a quick release.  Once pressure has been released, remove lid
  5. Press the Cancel button, then select Sauté, allowing to cook for 10 minutes.  Liquid will be reduced by half, and there is no need to stir.
  6. Mash berries with a potato masher, using either a fine mess strainer or your IP strainer basket.  Dispose of berries (my Boy Scout likes to put them in his compost pile.)  
  7. Let the remaining liquid cool to room temperature before adding honey and Thieves. This is to preserve the helpful enzymes in the honey and the therapeutic benefits of Thieves. 
  8. We like to store ours in glass jars.  Can last in the refrigerator 1-2 months, unless your family is like mine and can’t get enough of it.  We try to take at least 1 tsp a day to keep our immune systems going strong, and we use more if we feel we need extra support.
You know what was REALLY exciting about this?  I feel like as a mom of three busy kids, I don’t get much opportunity to explore my creative side (at least when it comes to something I’m passionate about), and making elderberry syrup reminded me just how much I crave that outlet.  Of course, staying well was an added bonus! 

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Oh, and stay tuned for how we turned that syrup into elderberry gummies of all shapes and sizes. 
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