It might seem strange to be publishing an article about something for colds and the flu in early April. Isn’t that better suited for the fall? Aren’t we over this already!? But while the cold and flu season officially starts in the fall it can last all the way to May!
Upper respiratory infections, like the cold or flu, can especially take us unaware in these later months. Today’s elderberry gummy bear recipe is a delicious ways you can both prevent infections as well as shorten the duration of them.
About Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberries have long been used as an ally against upper respiratory infections. They’ve been scientifically proven to be effective against at least 8 different influenza viruses! That is pretty amazing.
To get the best results from elderberries, take them to prevent infection or at the very onset and during an infection to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
How Does It Work?
One way we think elderberries may be effective at stopping viral infection is that the flavonoids within elderberries prevent the virus from replicating. That’s powerful stuff!
I luckily escaped getting either a cold or flu this past season (knock on wood), but it was a narrow escape. Twice in the past four months I felt something coming on. My energy was low and I had a sore and scratchy throat and a stuffy nose.
Both times I took some much needed rest and I took lots of elderberry syrup and both times the symptoms were gone within 24 hours. Phew!
Here’s a look into why the other herbs in this formula are also important.
Rosehips (Rosa spp.)
Rosehips are high in nutrients and potentially a great source of vitamin C, which is important for immune system function.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
Cinnamon is an aromatic and pungent herb that is highly antimicrobial. It is included in this recipe to “warm up” the recipe. It also is great tasting!
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is another powerful antiviral herb and is a wonderful synergistic herb that can be added in small amounts to formulas. Licorice should not be used as a single herb and is better used in small amounts as part of a larger formula. It should not be used for people with hypertension or during pregnancy.
“Licorice is broadly antiviral. It is active against a wide range of viruses through multiple mechanisms. It strongly inhibits the ability of many viruses to create the membrane pores through which the viruses then enter cells. This slows or even ends the viral infection right there. For other viruses, it is directly virucidal, and for others it stimulates the host immune system specifically to attack the invading virus.”
—Steven Buhner, Herbal Antivirals
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Pepper may seem like a strange addition to this recipe. Don’t worry, the end taste is still very pleasing for kids and the pepper isn’t noticeable. It is still important though! Pepper is a wonderful activator herb that helps other herbs be more effective. When you add small amounts of pepper to other herbs it makes them more bioavailable and thus more potent.
The second part of today’s recipe is turning your elderberry juice (or syrup) into fun shaped elderberry gummies. I can’t claim credit for this fun idea, but I knew I wanted to try it for my niece when I first started seeing recipes for it popping up. She helped me to make the first test batch and we had a great time. Don’t forget to get the kids in your life involved!
When I first started playing around with recipes I knew I wanted something that didn’t have a lot of added honey or sugar. It took me a few tries but I came up with a winner! This recipe tastes great and is plenty sweet from the apple juice and the natural sweetness of the herbs.
Gelatin is used to harden the juice into the gummy shapes. Gelatin is an animal product and it’s a good idea to get good quality gelatin. I recommend Great Lakes Gelatin, which can be found at health food stores or ordered online. Vegetarians and vegans may want to stick with using the juice only or find an alternative method. I do not have experience making vegetarian gummies.
Elderberry Juice and Elderberry Gummies
Elderberries are a powerful herb for preventing a cold or flu and for shortening the duration of a cold or flu. In this recipe we first make a juice from dried elderberries and other herbs then we use gelatin to make fun gummy shapes. Kids of all ages will enjoy them!
What you’ll need…
- 50 grams dried elderberries (about a 1/2 cup)
- 30 grams dried rose hips (about 1/3 cup)
- 15 grams cinnamon chips (about a 1/4 cup)
- 7 grams licorice root (about 2 tablespoons)
- .5 grams freshly ground black pepper (about 1 teaspoon)
- 3 cups apple juice
- 3 tablespoons gelatin (for Step 2)
Step 1: Make the Juice
- Place all the ingredients (except for gelatin) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- Strain through cheesecloth or a jelly bag. Squeeze well to extract the juice.
If you want to make the gummies, go to Step 2.
If you want to simply make elderberry syrup, you can now add honey or sugar to your taste preferences and keep it stored in the fridge. The amount of honey/sugar you add will be the determining factor in how long it lasts. The more you add, the longer it will last.
General recommended dose: I recommend kids take 1 to 3 teaspoons a day. Adults can take 1 to 3 tablespoons per day. If I feel like I am getting sick, I will end up drinking a cup or more a day.
Step 2: Make the Gummies
- Measure out 2 cups of the above juice. Add more apple juice if necessary so you have the full 2 cups.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the juice in a Pyrex measuring glass. Put it in the fridge until it is cold. Once it is cold, sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let sit for 1 minute.
- Bring the rest of the juice to a simmer. Then pour the hot juice over the cooled juice and gelatin, stirring briskly with a whisk. Continue to whisk swiftly for about 2 minutes or until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- If desired, add sugar or honey. You might find it is sweet enough already.
- Pour the mixture into silicone molds OR pour into a glass pan. Put them in the fridge to harden. Once they are hardened, they should remain hard. Remove them from the molds. If using a glass pan, cut them into cubes.
Store in a closed container in the fridge. They should last several weeks.
I recommend eating 1 to 3 small gummies a day.
I hope your family enjoys these recipes!