I'm new to elderberries. I don't ever remember seeing them in the Midwest. I've heard quite a bit about them since moving to the West, but have been really intimidated by the. The house that we moved to last year has the bushes (or shall I say trees) everywhere on the property. Several people told me how poisonous they are and how they can cause stomach problems if you don't handle them right. Last year, I thought about harvesting my many bushes of them all season, but chickened out!
This year, I decided that I wasn't going to use them again, but at least I would try to let people in my friends circle come pick them. So I put up a post on a local Facebook group. I got a couple of takers. Of course, the one evening that we could pick together, it was pouring rain and really cold! While I was helping my friend pick a 5 gallon bucket of elderberries, I got to thinking that maybe it was time for me to give this a try, too.
Let me tell you what I've learned from locals to my area about making Elderberry Tincture:
- Pick the elderberries. Most people in this area, wait until it frosts to pick them. You can just snap the bunches off the trees, and in our case, we just cut the branches down with a chainsaw and then took off the bunches. They grow back like crazy, so you don't have to worry about pruning the bushes back that much.
- I then put a couple of Walmart bags of the berries, stems still attached into the freezer and then I left them for another day when I had more time for them..
- Next, I had my 5 and 9 year old pick all the stems and leaves out. You can use a fork to push them off, but mine just fell off.
- Wash the berries and pick anymore stems from them.
- Fill clean jars with the elderberries.
- Cover the berries with your favorite Vodka.
- Put a lid on it and store the jars in a dark cook place for 2-3 months.
- In 2-3 months, strain off the berries and re-jar the tincture.
- Take 1 teaspoon as needed for any number of ailments.
When picking out my Vodka, I chose a brand I was familiar with (and knew tastes ok) as well as was reasonably priced.
Check out this great article about elderberries and about some other uses for them. I plan to use this as a immune booster for my family when we start coming down with colds and flus. I just hope we don't have too many more bouts of illnesses before it's ready!
For younger children, I've heard that you can mix a teaspoon of this tincture into hot tea, which would cook off the alcohol.
One Walmart bag and about 1/3 of a large bottle of Vodka made 3 quarts of tincture. I think this is a great payoff for not a lot of work. I'll keep you posted about how it works in a few months!