Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Making Elderberry Tincture with Brandy

In the spring or early summer elderberry bushes produce flat heads of tiny white flowers.  Then they start forming fruit.
In late summer you get droopy clusters of berries.  
You only want to use the flowers or the berries, do not use any other part of the plant.  I have read that other parts are useful but also read that they are toxic, better to be safe than sorry.
Only use the black fruit, never the unripe berries and definitely not the red type.

Always be sure of what plant you are looking at using.  There are lots of guides available.  I like this particular website for Texas.  There are some great YouTube videos as well...I recommend these, the man is extremely knowledgeable.

I had an elderberry bush in the garden but some 'help' I had either cut it down or the drought last year did it in.  However I did find some growing wild just up the street where they cut a road for a fill dirt lot.  I gathered the berries on 2 successive weekends, popping the first batch in the freezer.  There were a few more but I will leave them for the birds to eat and hopefully grow more.

In all I had enough to cover the bottom of the pint jar about 3/4" deep.  I used a wooden spoon to smash the berries and poured in the brandy to make the tincture.  You could use any type strong alcohol you like but one of the recipes I found said Brandy made for a better tasting syrup.  
I laid the jar sideways so you could better see the berries and seeds in it.  It has been in the cupboard for a week and the brandy is definitely getting darker.  The berries seem to be losing their color.  
I keep the jar in the cupboard and give it a little shake every day.  In 4-6 weeks it should be done.  I'll probably strain it then though you can leave the berries in it.  I intend to use it with warmed honey in tea for colds and flu.  
If I need a cough syrup I will just mix some with warm honey and maybe a bit of powdered ginger.  I may also make some ginger spiced honey with grated ginger for this purpose.  Especially since I have ginger growing in the garden.  Sometimes living in zone 9 is a good thing even if we do get hurricanes.

I've added this update to the posts on Yarrow Oil:

I had the yarrow oil steeping for some time.  I opened the jar today to see if it was ready and it had a yucky moldy scum on the top so to be safe I threw it all out.  My conclusion is that fresh plant material is good for tinctures but for oils you need to use dried plant material. 

Please note!  I am not a medical practitioner or expert, please do your own research and be certain of what you are using if you choose to make your own herbal remedies.  Some people may have allergies to some plants, always consult an expert if you are not absolutely certain of something.  If you have medical conditions or are on medications always consult your physician first.

Linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

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