Outside my kitchen window are fat, crimson hips, glossy and round as Christmas baubles. They look bright and cheery against the drab, November sky and remind me that it's time to make my yearly batch of Super Berry Syrup, a blend of antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting autumn berries that keeps my system thriving throughout the cold, dark months of the year.
A blend of elderberry, hawthorn, and rose-hip, flavored with a little spice and a dash of citrus peel, this richly pigmented syrup — an inky, purply black like the skin of an eggplant or a plum — sits just as comfortably in a warm cup of tea as it does splashed into a sophisticated winter mocktail or cocktail. You might even be so bold as to drizzle it over your stack of pancakes, stir it into your oatmeal or yogurt and add a glug to your daily smoothie. There are infinite possibilities for sneaking this syrup into your daily routine, each one as pleasantly delicious and fortifying as the last.
All three berries are rich sources of vitamin C and antioxidants that help to, among other things, improve the functioning of your immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect your heart and cardiovascular system from damage. I like to think these plants conceal a little of that warming, sunny energy of summer within their sweet, fruity hearts, to be doled out and enjoyed when the sunlight diminishes. If you have access to the fresh berries, by all means use them, but dried can easily be substituted without any real sacrifice to the flavor or potency. It's an excellent activity for a blustery, rainy day (who doesn't love having something delicious smelling bubbling away on the stove on gloomy days?) and a big batch means you'll have plenty to get you through the winter, plus a few extras for giving away as gifts, should the mood strike.
Super Berry Syrup
Makes about 1 gallon
- 1 cup each fresh or 1/2 cups dried elderberries, hawthorn berries and rose hips
- 2 tbsp cinnamon chips
- 1 tbsp dried ginger root (chopped, not powdered) or 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- zest of 2 oranges
- 10 cups cups water
- 3 - 4 cups honey
- Place everything except for the honey into a large stock pot over high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the syrup is reduced in volume by about a quarter.
- Pour the liquid through a strainer into another pot or large jug to separate out the herbs. Measure your volume. For every cup of liquid you have, add ½ cup of honey.
- Stir well to dissolve.
- Divide the syrup between sterilized containers, cap, and turn them upside down to heat seal.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
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Writer Danielle Charles Davies holds a Bsc in Herbal Science from Bastyr University and completed the two-year clinical training program at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism in Montpelier, VT. Her writing has appeared in Taproot, The Journal of the American Herbalist Guild, and Kindred Magazine, among others. She lives in Northern Michigan with her husband, two dogs and eight ducks. She blogs at www.bluemoonkitchen.com.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.