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Turkey Tracks: Elderberry Tincture

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Turkey Tracks:  October 22, 2013

Elderberry Tincture

I almost missed the elderberry harvest again this year.

you really have to keep a sharp eye on the berries because they are near ripe one day and gone (birds) the next.

So, back in September some time, I got what remained on the two bushes I have.  One is almost a tree, and when we first came, I kept cutting it down as it’s growing in the rock wall below the house.  (Harvesting it is…dicey.)  The other is a bush I planted two years ago, and those berries are plumper and bigger than the wild berries.

Anyway, you cut off the berry clusters and strip off the berries in the kitchen.  You can see elderberries are TINY little purple berries.  And you can see how the clusters grow on the plant from the last one I’m stripping in this picture.

Elderberries

I make a tincture.  And, tinctures are alcohol based.  I use vodka.  Next time you are in Whole Paycheck or a health food store, see what a little bottle of elderberry tincture costs, and you’ll have newfound respect for my efforts.

I fill a quart jar with berries and pour the vodka over the berries to fill the jar.  I freeze the berries I have left.  Then I let the mixture sit out on the counter until the berries go white–as all their purple goodness is leached out.  At that point, I strain off the old berries and put in new ones and pour the now-purple vodka back into the jar.  Last year I did this process three times.  And can I tell you that that tincture was incredibly powerful.

Elderberry Tincture 2013

This year, I will probably do only two leachings since I don’t have that many berries.  Maybe I’ll leave the second batch of berries inside the liquid–they would provide fiber at least.

This tincture is dynamite for anyone coming down with a cold or the flu or anything that seems like it will become an illness.

Another use for frozen elderberries is to just thaw a few in a spoon overnight and eat them in the morning.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride–of the GAPS protocol–which I’ve written about many times on this blog–recommends eating a few berries over the fall and winter to support your immune system.

Elderberry bushes are easy to locate and to forage, in the late summer.  FInd them in the spring when they have big white flat cluster blooms, flat like a Queen Anne’s Lace flower.  Google them for an image?  They like damp places.  If you don’t have access to the countryside, plant a bush in your yard somewhere.

Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information: Elderberries

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Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information:  September 19, 2011

Elderberries

When we first moved to Maine, we were fairly focused on keeping trees from growing in the rock wall that buttresses our hill–between the front yard and the tiny meadow below the house.  We kept cutting back this one tree, which had roots deep into the wall and refused to die.

Some years later, Margaret Rauenhorst told me how beneficial elderberries were.  She makes elderberry jam, tinctures, and wine from them.  One day early last spring she made a gorgeous pie with the berries she’d frozen last fall that she shared with us.  Margaret and Ronald have a lot of the bushes on their property and are planting more.   Other friends also set about collecting the berries in the fall, Steve and Barb Melchiskey for instance.

While with Margaret one day last fall, I bought an elderberry tree and planted it on the slope next to our driveway.  Elderberries like wet feet apparently.  It’s thriving, bloomed this spring, and I was able to get about 1 cup of berries from it this year.

Not long after, I realized–from seeing the leaves on our purchased elderberry–that the pesky tree on the wall was also an elderberry.  So, we left it alone I collected those berries as well.  Here they are in my kitchen sink–ready to be picked off their stems and frozen:

Here’s what Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride says about elderberries in GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME:

“Black elderberry is a small tree, which grows pretty much everywhere from cold to very warm climates.  In spring it bears clusters of tiny whitish flowers, which at the end of the summer turn into small juicy black berries.  Medicinal properties of this plant have been appreciated for centuries.  Its flowers, berries, leaves and bark were traditionally used for treating colds, pneumonia, flu, sore throat, hay fever, wounds, eye infections and many other ailments….Black elderberry has strong immune-stimulating properties and it is one of the most powerful anti-viral remedies known to man….You do not have to be an experienced herbalist to use this plant….From the end of summer/beginning of autumn make it your bedtime routine to take 1-2 tablespoons [for family of four] of berries out of the freezer and leave them at room temperature to defrost over night.  In the morning juice them together with pineapple, carrot or any other fruit and vegetables you planned to use.  If you do it every day or every other day throughout the cold season your family will not have any colds.”

Dr. McBride goes on to say that for one person 1 teaspoon of the berries daily is a good dose.

Here in Maine we can buy Avena herbs elderberry tincture, and I always keep it on hand.  And, I keep an elderberry tea on hand as well.  At the first sign of anything going wrong, I start using the tincture and drinking the tea.  Knock on wood, but I can’t remember when I had a cold last.