The Goods: Elderberries 101
Elderberries are small, bluish purple berries that are grown across Canada. The best place to pick them up is at your local farmers’ market.
You’ll need to remove the stems, which can be a little tedious, but here’s a trick: Freeze the berries on the stems and give them a little shake and they’ll come free. (If fresh isn’t an option, you can find them dried at your local health food store.)
Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and have long been used in treatments for the influenza virus. They also stimulate cytokine production, which helps reduce inflammation and improve immune function.
This immune function has also been shown to reduce the symptoms and duration of colds among air travellers, so it’s definitely a supplement you’ll want to add to your travel kit. They’re a mighty source of vitamin C and should be part of any immune-boosting protocol or cold and flu prevention plan.
Elderberries can’t be eaten raw like blueberries or raspberries; instead, they need to be processed in some way – either cooked or tinctured. You’ll often find elderberry served up as a tea or in herbal tea blends specifically for immune health or cold and flu formulas. I often cook elderberries down into a syrup with turmeric, ginger and honey and add them to fizzy water for a mocktail.
You can tincture elderberries with vodka (hello, cocktail mixer!) and add it to your own Canadian-inspired cocktail or take it as a tincture for cold and flu prevention. An alcohol-based infusion takes five minutes to prepare and four weeks of patience until it’s ready.
If you’ve been hearing all the trendy news about drinking vinegars and shrubs, you can easily swap the vodka for apple cider vinegar and follow the same process.