Elderberry Juice

I am not into holistic or natural medicinal practices. I prefer tested and true modern medicine. That’s not to say I don’t believe it can work or that you’re silly to practice it, it’s just not something I partake in. Except for Elderberry juice, that is. It’s fruit, it’s juice, the Elderberries are packed with vitamins and minerals, and you drink it just like any other juice you find on a grocery shelf. Except that you cant actually find it on the typical grocery shelf. I started out drinking this juice with the idea that it’s just juice, if it doesn’t work then no harm no foul. However, elderberry juice has saved me countless times from sickness and for that I am a believer. I had been getting more and more sick over the last week and finally started drinking some juice. By that night my symptoms were a little better. By the next morning I was significantly better and that night symptom free. I have heard many stories about how the juice (or syrup) greatly shortened others cold and flu symptoms. I have kids, the whole family brings home germs, I hate being sick. So I guess you could say that I DO partake in natural medicinal practices.

WebMD has a short and sweet description of uses ranging from sinus pain to HIV.

The Elderberry Bush is native to North America and can be found growing in the wild. Elderberries have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, is used in Chinese medicine, and the plant was used to make the Elder wand in Harry Potter (so we know it’s magic, right?). There are several possible drug interactions and the University of Maryland  Medical Center published an article that discusses this. Check the list before trying the juice! Wikipedia says that the raw, uncooked berries contain trace amounts of cyanide and should not be consumed. Good to know and would probably explain why it hurt my stomach after putting 1/2 cup in a smoothie. Jeesh! BTW, I have NO education in herbal medicine and am not a doctor of any kind. Do your homework and decide if you think it’s right for you.

Photo By Drake411 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How do you get your hands on this juice, you may be wondering? You can purchase it in most natural food stores and Amazon has quite a few to choose from. The berries are very sour so the sugar-added syrups are a really good idea, unless you think you can handle downing it in one gulp. The juices and syrups can be quite expensive if you intend to use it regularly. Enter today’s recipe:

My mother has elderberry bushes growing on her property and harvests them regularly. She freezes them and shares. If you have access to the real thing then why not?

Here’s what you need:

  • Elderberries, as much or little as you’d like to juice. I usually do 1-2 cups at a time, enough to last me a week.
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth or other fine mesh strainer. (cheesecloth is very cheap and you only need a small piece)
  • An airtight container to store your juice, I prefer a mason jar.
  1. Place berries in a sauce pan.
  2. Add just enough water to cover the tops of the berries. (the more water you use the less concentrated your juice will be)
  3. Heat on medium low until steam starts to rise from pan.
  4. Turn heat down to simmer and let steam for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool 10-20 minutes, enough that you don’t burn your fingers during the next step.
  6. Place strainer over the jar and spoon some of your berries and juice into strainer. The juice will drain right through into the jar. You have juice! Once the juice is done draining you need to squeeze the juice out of the berries. They hold the most nutrients, and a lot of juice, so don’t just throw them out. The berries will stain your hands and clothes so wear gloves. If using the cheesecloth just squeeze. If using a strainer you will need to smash the berries. I use a muddling wand that came with my blender but any small glass would do.
  7. Remove the berry pulp and repeat step 6 until you have finished.
  8. Put a lid on your container and store in the refrigerator.

elderberry juice

How I like to drink it:

I pour about 1/8th cup into a microwave safe glass and add a bit of honey. Microwave for 10 seconds to warm up the juice. Warm juice sounds gross? This is how you get the  honey to dissolve and mix well. In my opinion it tastes much better than unsweetened, kick-you-in-the-teeth berries. When it’s sweetened it tastes much like grape juice. I drink this once a day, twice if i’m sick. If you cant stand it warm you could put the juice in a berry smoothie.

elderberry juice