September has arrived, drawing Summer to a close. Things are slowly starting to change, the temperature is getting that bit cooler, the evenings are drawing in. It’s time to think ahead to those even colder, shorter, darker days when flu rears its head.
Why, you might ask…
… because the elderberries are out and they are well known to help prevent and ease symptoms of colds and flu. So although Summer has barely had a chance to say goodbye, it’s time to prepare for Winter!
At the first sign of a cold or flu many of us run to the pharmacy to buy some concoction of paracetamol and caffeine. But never mind those nonsense chemical lemon sachets, elderberries are readily available (more than likely not very far from your doorstep) and with only a little bit of effort, they make the perfect, natural cold and flu prevention tonic.
Last year I made an elderberry syrup which I froze in ice-cubes but this year I have a new found skill that I want to put to the test, tinctures!
Tinctures are a way of preserving plants and berries in a way that is longer lasting and more portable than syrups and teas. They are essentially concentrated, alcohol-based extracts or in other words, a natural medicine.
The key with tinctures is to be prepared as although they are incredibly quick and easy to make they take a long time to mature, so bear in mind your medicine won’t be ready for weeks or even months.
Elderberry & Echinacea Tincture
20g dried echinacea root
200ml good quality vodka (or to fill jar)
- Pick the elderberries off the stalk, ensuring all the stalk is completely removed.
- Place the elderberries into a sterilised jam jar (I place a clean jam jar in an oven for 5 minutes before leaving to cool) with the echinacea root and pour over the vodka. Fill the jar completely with vodka so that no air will remain when you put the lid on as this may cause it to go off, better to over fill and spill a little than ruin your tincture.
- Shake the jar and top up if necessary on a daily basis to remove any pockets of air.
- After three weeks, strain the liquid through some muslin and pour into a glass amber bottle. (Amber bottles look pretty but they also help preserve the tincture longer by blocking out light.)
- Take one teaspoon daily when cold and flu season is rife.
There are so many plants and “weeds” growing in hedgerows, along canal towpaths or around the edges of parks that have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years as natural medicines. With just a little know how we can make use of these plants and lessen our dependancy on pharmaceutical products. Tincture’s are just one easy way we can put these plants to use. I promise it’s super easy, give it a try!