Makes approximately 4 cups of syrup. Can be easily doubled.
- 4 heaping cups of freshly-harvested elderberries
- 1 - 2 cups water
- 16 oz whiskey (80 proof or higher)
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- Fresh lemon
- If you find a good elderberry tree, it’s easy to harvest a pretty high volume of berries. Pick the ripe berries in their clusters and then pluck the berries individually after harvest (much like sumac). It can be a little tricky to separate stems from the berries, but don’t worry about it too much because you’ll be boiling the berries into a mash and then straining it soon.
- Rinse your berries, put them in a saucepan, and add 1 cup water along with the optional cinnamon sticks. There should be enough water to cover the bottom of the pot plus an inch or so, so add more water as needed. Gently bring the berries to a boil and stir frequently, cooking them down for 20 minutes.
- Once it’s a gorgeous, thick goo of cooked, juicy berries, strain this liquid through cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. Make sure to remove all of the seeds. Allow to cool.
- Measure how much of the cooked berry juice you’re left with (it should be approximately 2 cups) and add an equal part of whiskey that is at least 40% alcohol — in order to be preserved, the mixture needs to be a minimum of 20% alcohol. This will help it to last through the winter, when you’ll want it the most!
- Add 2-4 ounces of this syrup to 8 ounces of hot water and garnish with a lemon wedge for an excellent, immune-stimulating hot toddy.