Immune Boosting Elderberry Spritz

elderberry spritz

The flu season is almost here.  Or is it here now? Already this month, I’ve heard whispers of “my friend’s son has the flu” or “I don’t feel so great, maybe I’m catching the flu”.  But just because "everyone is sick" doesn't mean you need to be, and a cold-flu free autumn/winter is definitely possible.

If we’re looking at graphs, the seasonal rise of flu cases begins in October and peaks in January, but viruses don’t read graphs, so if we’re being shrewd we should all probably start amping up the antivirals in our daily routine now, right? A few popular and quick antivirals and immune stimulant herbs are garlic, ginger, thyme and honey (all of which can be combined to make a great fire cider!) but my favorite immune boosting superfood is elderberry.

Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis (L.)

Elderberry has been used for centuries in folk medicine throughout Europe, South America and Asia as an antiviral and immune boosting tonic. Sometimes referred to as “the medicine chest for the country people”, the elderflower and berry are both great for preventing and fighting off colds, flu, and respiratory infections due to their diaphoretic and antiviral actions.

Elderberry is also great for reducing inflammation and are high in vitamin C, anthocyanins and flavonoids - these are all immune modulating properties that aid in their influenza and cold fighting abilities.  Taken at onset, elderberry can reduce the duration of cold/flu because it interferes with virus replication, and strengthens cell walls to inhibit viral penetration.

Elderflowers, which can be harvested in early summer, are also a relaxing nervine, supporting the nervous system in times of stress. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, elderberry is native to our little corner of the world and it’s berries can be harvested right before the start of flu season. And, that’s exactly what I did a few weeks ago so I could create this delicious, antioxidant packed elderberry soda!

I’ve been drinking this iced cold spritzer once every few days and have successfully warded off at least one round of workplace colds.  If you’re trying to avoid added sweeteners, you can omit the honey and make a tasty shrub instead. Cheers and may the antivirals be with you!

anti colf spritzer
elderberry tree

Immune Boosting Elderberry Spritzer

Sometimes referred to as “the medicine chest for the country people”, the elderflower and berry are both great for preventing and fighting off colds, flu, and respiratory infections due to their diaphoretic and antiviral actions. Elderberry is also great for reducing inflammation and are high in vitamin C, anthocyanins and flavonoids - these are all immune modulating properties that aid in their influenza and cold fighting abilities. Taken at onset, elderberry can reduce the duration of cold/flu because it interferes with virus replication, and strengthens cell walls to inhibit viral penetration.

Makes: Serves 5-6

Cook time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients
  • 2 cups dried elderberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, finely chopped r
  • 2 bay leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups raw honey
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 9 cups sparkling water, divided
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

Recipe Preparation
  1. Crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife.
  2. Combine elderberries, ginger, crushed peppercorns, bay leaves and 6 cups of water to a heavy bottom pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by half.
  3. Add blackberries and allow to simmer for about five more minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once mixture has cooled, pulse in a food processor or blender until all berries are broken up but a few larger pieces remain. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. You should have about 3 cups.
  5. Add honey and vinegar and mix well.
  6. Transfer to a 1-qt. jar or an airtight container. Cover and chill 8–12 hours.
  7. To make 1 drink, mix ¼ cup purée with ¾ cup sparkling water in a measuring glass; taste and add more purée if you want it sweeter. Pour into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a lime wedge, a bay leaf, and a few blackberries.

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