When a cordial is made correctly it's often magical. There aren’t many items that you can sip your way to better health, drizzle over your favorite dessert or use as a base for a dressing to a tantalizing cocktail or mocktail. This is what it means to use food as medicine.
My all time favorite cordial is made with elderflowers. However, the flower is only available once a year. A close second is elderberry cordial made from the dried berries that are easy to find anytime of the year.
Elderberry cordial has an ancient history of being a go to medicine during flu or cold seasons. It’s loaded with antioxidants and has immunity boosting properties that are well documented.
I’m hoping when you realize how easy it is to make that you will start consuming this healing elixir all the time. Key point is that it's simple to make yet expensive to buy!
I’m going to share 2 recipes. One with alcohol and one without. The plus side to using alcohol is that it works as a natural preservative. When using you can make a simple recipe that’s shelf stable for a few years. The downside is that you won’t be able to share with kids.
Elderberry Cordial with Alcohol (using traditional method of make using time as cooking method)
- 1 ¼ cups dried elderberries
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 stick cinnamon
- ¼ cup dried rosehips (optional but adds wonderful flavor)
- 2 Tbsp dried orange peel
- Around 3 cups brandy, vodka or gin (brandy is traditional)
- Raw honey to taste (maple syrup or sweetener of choice)
- Quart size jar with lid
- Cheesecloth or nut milk bag
- Bottles for storage
- Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, rosehips and orange peel to a quart-sized glass jar.
- Add brandy or other alcohol to fill the jar and cover with a lid.
- Label the jar with contents and the date.
- Set aside in a cool, dark place for 3–4 weeks (colder months leave for 4 weeks. Warmer months only need 3 weeks)
- When ready to decant, strain the contents of the jar through multiple layers of cheesecloth (or use a nut milk bag) over a large bowl. Once the liquid has been drained out, give the contents of the cheesecloth a squeeze to release remaining liquid into the bowl. Discard remaining solids into your compost.
- For every 1 cup of liquid retained, add 1/2 cup honey (more or less honey to taste). Mix thoroughly to incorporate the honey into the brandy-elderberry mixture.
- Use a funnel to pour the cordial into the storage bottles.
Since it includes alcohol it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and will last for years. To use as preventative medicine, sip at least 1-2 ounces per day. If you start to feel like you're getting sick increase dosage to at least 2 ounces 4-6 times a day until you feel better then go back to daily preventative amounts.
Elderberry Cordial (without alcohol)
- 4 cups dried elderberries
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated raw ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon OR 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 tsp cloves ground or whole
- 2 Tbsp dried orange peel
- 8 cups water
- 16-24* ounces raw honey or sweetener of choice. Add to taste.
- Add 8 cups of water and 4 cups of dried elderberries to a saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat.
- Once simmering, add cinnamon, clove, orange peel and grated ginger and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Once reduced by half the original volume, allow the elderberry mixture to cool slightly.
- Using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth perched over a bowl, strain the mixture, using hands to press the berries to extract as much juice as possible.
- Add the extracted elderberry juice back into the saucepan and add raw honey, using a whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Pour the elderberry syrup into jars or bottles, and refrigerate. Without liquor, it should stay fresh for about 12 weeks. It is safe to use until mold develops!
*I understand this is a lot of honey. The natural sugar is working as a preservative. It doesn’t last as long as alcohol but it does give you 3-4 months. If you want to make without any sugar or a lot less then you would need to freeze the cordial after a couple of days to keep it from going bad.
To use as preventative medicine, sip at least 1-2 ounces per day. If you start to feel like you're getting sick increase dosage to at least 2 ounces 4-6 times a day until you feel better then go back to daily preventative amounts.
Beyond sipping on the cordial try it over your favorite pancakes or waffles with some greek yogurt, ice cream, smoothies, tea, freeze into ice cubes (perfect for summer drinks), use as base for your homemade dressings and sauces. There are so many yummy ways to use this magical medicinal cordial.
Where to buy organic dried elderberries:
https://www.peoples.coop (local for us Portlanders)
https://mountainroseherbs.com (wonderful on-line store. They also have rose hips and dried orange peel)
Join my bi-monthly dose for all things well-fed and well-lived.
Enjoy recipes & inspiration for eating, living & feeling WELL through REAL nourishment.