When I first had my munchkin five years ago, I promised myself to be the ideal mother, constantly on the search for life-changing immune-boosting tricks. I was initially reluctant to listen to my mother-in-law's tales from the old country about all the natural remedies they used to help kids and adults through the flu or any other ailment. However, when my munchkin got her first fever at six months, I was ready to give her all the garlic and vinegar and honey and anything else to just make that sweetness feel better.
Fortunately, the fever-reducer did the trick as did the vinegar that I wiped her down with -- I had to admit that sometimes the natural remedies do work! At this point I realized that when I stopped nursing and she no longer got her immunity from me, I would need to do some serious searching for immune boosting.
Enter elderberry syrup.
My best friend first told me about this stuff after my munchkin started daycare and said it was imperative that she take it because it truly helps her little one stay healthy in a cesspool of sick little munchkins.
So I hurried on over to Whole Foods and purchased my $19.99 bottle of sambucus, a.k.a elderberry syrup. Expensive as it was, I was willing to pay almost anything to keep my little munchkin healthy year-round and especially in the dead of winter when the sniffles are almost a permanent plague among all daycare dwellers.
It was indeed tasty and effective -- and pricy.
I purchased this magic concoction from either Amazon or Whole Foods for nearly four years …until one day a friend who was already a loyal user of the Instant Pot informed me (on her quest to convince me to buy the Instant Pot ) that she makes elderberry syrup in the Instant Pot for her kids. I was sold.
This syrup was actually the very first thing I made in my Instant Pot after I had done the water test. I used a recipe that my friend told me about and then naturally added my own twist to it.
Into the Instant Pot went my elderberries , a few cinnamon sticks, an entire orange zested and juiced and half a lemon zested and juiced. Additionally, I added a nice knob of fresh ginger for the health and flavor benefits as well as some of my favorite vanilla paste . I then sealed it all up and set the timer to 7 min on high pressure.
Almost instantly the house was filled with warm scents of cinnamon and citrus, and just a few short moments later I had produced a fabulous brew of immunity-boosting deliciousness.
The Elderberries: The most frequently asked question is where I can find these elderberries. Well, fortunately we are in the age Amazon, where you can find almost anything. I have bought these particular elderberries several times already and all is well … I typically get three batches or (1) 32 ounce jar out of one of these bags, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the alternative syrup in stores.
The Flavors: You can pretty much add as much or as little flavor as you want. I stick to the basics of citrus, vanilla and ginger, but feel free to go wild here. You can add in cloves, hibiscus, nutmeg -- the sky is the limit. You can even add in other dried fruit if you like; I bet some dried strawberries would be awesome in here as well.
The Cooking Process: There really is not much of a cooking process here, is there? Throw everything into the Instant Pot, add in some water, seal the Instant Pot and set to manual cooking on high pressure for 7 min. That's it. Once it's done, simply quick-release the pressure, and strain over a bowl.
Straining: After you have strained into a strainer or colander, you want to push down on the fruit and other ingredients. Smash everything ensuring that you get every last bit out of there. Those berries and citrus hold plenty of delicious flavor, so squeeze it all out then discard or put in your trash compost if that's your thing.
Sweeteners: Once the mixture has cooled a bit, I like to add some raw honey. You need the mixture to cool down some because if you add in raw honey to severely hot liquids then all the health and antibiotic properties of honey will be lost due to the heat. If you are not a fan of honey, fell free to add in agave syrup, maple syrup, molasses or just plain sugar. I like honey because it only adds to the health benefits.
Consistency: If you have ever purchased this syrup from the stores, you will notice it does have a rather syrupy consistency. This particular recipe does not. It is all-natural and therefore does not have enough sugar in there to be as thick as the store bought ones. Perhaps if you reduce it, the mixture will certainly get more concentrated and thickened, but frankly, I do not have the need for such silliness. I'm just fine with my elderberry tea or juice.
Storing: If you are not canning this (which I never do) then simply pour this off into a 32-ounce mason jar and place it in the fridge. Each morning prior to breakfast, take a nice shot of your delicious syrup and boost your immunity! This lasts me over a month in the fridge, typically.
While this delicious elderberry concoction does not cure all the sniffles, fevers and tummy aches, it sure as heck does help my munchkin ward off illnesses. In fact, one doctor even said that as soon as the symptoms of sickness show up, to double the elderberry consumption in an effort to fight the bug off faster.
No matter how much truth there is to this remedy, I would rather have my munchkin load up on this yumminess any day instead of her running a rampant fever, and I bet you would too.
Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot
2 cups elderberries
6 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tbsp vanilla paste
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 cup raw honey
1. Place elderberries, water, cinnamon sticks, ginger and vanilla into an Instant Pot.
2. Zest the orange and the lemon. Juice the lemon and orange. Throw the remaining orange and lemon into the pot after juicing. As it cooks, it will melt down and all the parts of the fruit will flavor the syrup.
3. Seal the Instant Pot and set it to "MANUAL" on "HIGH PRESSURE" for 7 minutes.
4. Once the timer goes off, set the valve to "VENT" and strain the mixture into a sieve over a bowl. Squeeze the mixture through the sieve with the back of the spoon until no more liquid comes out. Discard the remaining berries and citrus.
5. Once the syrup has cooled to room temperature, add in honey. Feel free to add in more if you require more sweetness.
6. Pour into a refrigerator-safe container. Drink each morning to boost your immunity!