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All Things Elderberry

Elderberry is so very, extra-ordinary

that she must be (surely) part Fairy!

Lore abounds for this elegant bush! Folklore around the world connects Elder with protection from evil spirits and bad luck, as well as many nature spirits such as dryads and fairies.

The leaves, flowers, berries, and bark have all been used medicinally though it’s most common to use the flowers and berries. The leaves and bark are not used as often but can be tinctured separately or together as a great antiviral remedy.

Nutritionally, Elderberries contain calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12).

The plant does contain toxins so the berries should be cooked or tinctured before being used. But cooking releases the toxins and Elderberry is used for making jellies, syrups, muffins, and more!

The flowers are great dried to add to teas. They are helpful for lowering a fever and fighting off viruses such as the flu. I learned from herbalist Rosemary Gladstar how to make an effective flu fever tea by combining elderflower, peppermint and yarrow together.

A cooled tea of elderflower can be helpful for flushing the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract to help remove the build-up of uric acid in the body, which can cause gout, rheumatism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and uric acid kidney stones.

Elderflower water makes a wonderful mildly astringent, toning face wash, similar to Witch Hazel. Elderflower water also makes a great wash for the skin, being emollient, and as a vulnerary, helps to heal wounds. Elderflowers have been used as a poultice on wounds, cuts and burns.

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As an immunomodulator, Elderberry tea is a pleasant drink that can help with colds, flus, lung congestion, constipation or a vitamin C boost! In fact, Elderberry contains vitamins A and C, making it a healthy berry to add to your wintertime arsenal. Elderberries are best known as a prophylactic against the flu. It has been used for the coronavirus too.

Because Elderberry is also antiviral, she helps to fight off viruses as well. At the first sign of any illness, we immediately start taking our Elderberry syrup. For those who suffer from fever blisters, other types of herpes or the chicken pox, Elderberry is a great herb to have on hand.

Being all things cold and flu, Elder is also an expectorant, decongestant, anticatarrhal, and can help with lung congestion by helping to break mucous up and move it out of the lungs. And, as an anti-inflammatory, the syrup can help to soothe a sore throat.

Elderberry has long been used for a dye too. Various parts of the plants can be used, from the bark which will create a deep black to the berries which will create a bluish violet color.

 Elderflower Fritters

This delightful treat is an early summer favorite around here! It makes a great celebration dessert or just a wonderful dessert to celebrate summer in general.

10-12 Elderflower clusters on the stem

3/4 cups flour of choice (I used a blend of coconut flour, brown rice flour, and cassava flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup milk (I used coconut milk)

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg (or egg substitute equivalent)

Oil for high heat frying such as avocado oil, coconut oil, or lard

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Make sure to have a good layer of oil to create a good base for frying (these things aren’t the healthiest so that’s why they are a special treat)!

While the oil is heating, combine the dried ingredients in a bowl.

Stir in the moist ingredients and combine until smooth.

Dip a Elderflower cluster into the batter, holding onto the stem. Place the cluster into the frying pan, pushing down a bit to spread out the flower.

Repeat until your pan is full and fry until the batter turns golden brown.

Remove and place on a cloth or paper towel to drain off the excess grease.

Snip off or gently pull off as many stems as you can.

Repeat until all the clusters are finished.

Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup or Elderberry syrup. Alternatively, you can give them a light dusting of powdered sugar (my favorite way to eat them, they taste just like funnel cakes)!

Want to learn to make a Elderberry syrup with your kids? Check out my new Monday Making series. This week’s episode is on making Elderberry syrup!
Want to listen to “The Lesson fo Elder”? This story is from the Elderberry issue of Herbal Roots zine and it can be found on YouTube here:
Want to learn more about Elderberry? You can find the Elderberry eBook in my shop:

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