As an herbalist and herbal educator, I have always used food as medicine and like to incorporate herbs with health-promoting qualities into food and drink whenever I can. The use of herbs, berries and barks infused into distilled spirits dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and these medicines have long been hailed for their restorative and life-giving qualities. Elder (Latin name Sambucus) is native to where I live and work (Marin County California), where you’ll find them growing along waterways. Historical references to the use of elder date back to the Greeks and the tree even garnered a nod in the popular Harry Potter book series: The most powerful wand in the land was made from elder wood. The ancients recognized its power and it is, indeed, one of the best natural medicines for the cold and flu season. Here is my recipe for a delicious elderberry cordial. Cordials can be sipped in small glasses or drizzled over your favorite dessert. However you enjoy them, you can feel good about boosting your immunity to colds and flus this wintertime. Cheers!
ELDERBERRY CORDIAL SUPPLIES
Quart-sized glass jar with tight-fitting lid
Decorative bottle for storage
1¼ cups dried elderberries
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
¼ cup dried rosehips
2 tablespoons dried orange peel
About 3 cups brandy
Honey, to taste (maple syrup or other sweetener can be substituted)
Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, rosehips and orange peel to a quart-sized glass jar.
Add brandy to fill the jar and cover with a lid.
Label the jar with contents and the date.
Set aside in a cool, dark place for 3–4 weeks.
When ready to decant, strain the contents of the jar through multiple layers of cheesecloth over a large bowl.
Once the liquid has been drained out, give the contents of the cheesecloth a squeeze to release remaining liquid into the bowl.
Discard remaining solids into your compost.
For every 1 cup of liquid retained, add ½ cup honey (more or less honey to taste).
Mix thoroughly to incorporate the honey into the brandy-elderberry mixture.
Use a funnel to pour the cordial into a decorative bottle for storage, or gift giving.
This recipe can also be made with fresh elderberries—just increase the amount of berries per recipe to approximately 2 cups.
Cordials will last for years and can improve nicely with age. Cordials do not need to be refrigerated since the alcohol content is above 20%.