Fermented by L A B

5 Reasons to Love Elderberries: Health Benefits and More

Health, Ingredient SpotlightAlana Holloway

A little tale about elderberries…

My first experience with the humble elderberry was when I was a wee young thing.  My dear Gran used to look after my sisters and me in the Summer holidays and we would often rope her into doing all sorts of things, as grandchildren are so very good at doing.  Her well-thumbed WI Cookbook would always be pulled from the shelves and on this occasion, I stumbled across a recipe for elderberry syrup.  It must’ve been the very end of the holidays as a few moments later, we were walking down the lane to pick ourselves some elderberries.  Once we had cleaned, picked and simmered the elderberries in water and sugar, we strained and bottled the cooled liquid and put it aside until it was ‘ready’… reading this back now, I really have no idea what we made that required us to wait! Wine?!  After all that effort and patience, I couldn’t wait to taste our magic potion. A few visits later, we popped the top, mixed with water and sipped on a glass.  I HATED it!!  I was so disappointed and vowed never to try elderberries again with no idea that years (and years) later, I’d be flavouring Kefir with it and drinking it like it was going out of fashion!

 
elderberries
 

As FBL grows older and more seasons pass, I am even more drawn to using the seasonal ingredients I find on my doorstep.  Mother Nature continuously proves that she’s got our backs, providing us with what we need to survive and thrive throughout the ever changing ebbs and flows of life. Elderberries are probably one of the best examples of that. As the sunlight hours reduce and the nights draw in, the temperatures dip and central heating gets turned on, it’s vital that we increase our intake of immune boosting foods high in vitamin-C to ward off the coughs and colds that inevitably follow the back to school period.  Read on to find out more…

-      Elderberries immune boosting power comes from the flavonoids (a group of phytonutrients aka plant chemicals, responsible for vivid, deep and rich colours in plant foods).  Flavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants that help keep our immune systems fighting fit.

-      Elderberries are extremely high in fibre, therefore promoting good digestive health and constipation relief.  We use re-hydrated elderberries to make an elderberry puree to flavour our Autumn Berry Kefir, meaning some of that fibre remains in the bottled, finished product.  Dried elderberries can also be added to cakes, muffins, sauces and jams to increase their fibre content.

-      Elderberry syrup has been used for centuries to ward off and treat colds, coughs and flu. It boasts anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and works a treat… hence it sticking around for so long.

-      High in both vitamins A and C, elderberries are a great addition to your diet if you’re looking to improve the health and appearance of your skin.

-      Elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce swelling in mucous membranes such as your sinuses, helping to reduce nasal congestion, aka the sniffles!