I often see individuals wanting to make elderberry syrup and then not wanting the sugar so they try to find another solution. Some try to substitute the sugar, others head to making a tincture but I really think that elderberry is best extracted in water, in a decoction. So how do we make a larger batch to save us time and not use the sugar? We can make ice cubes!
Any herbal tea can be frozen after extracted but elderberry is such a lovely color that it makes a delicious and colorful treat when it is frozen. You have a few different options to consider when making these ice cubes. Keep in mind that you may want to invest in non-plastic ice cube trays if you are going to be making these frequently to avoid the plastic leaching into your herbal products.
This recipe makes an herbal concentrate, 7 ice cubes, with about 12 grams of herb in each ice cube. That is concentrated! That is 3-4 cups of tea in one ice cube. When you do this, it is simple to pop one cube into a quart ball jar and then pour hot water over it to make a quick tea to drink through the day. That is so simple!
- 70g Elderberries
- 10g Rose petals
- 5g Hibiscus flowers
- Gram Scale
- 2 mason jars for steeping herbs
- Jar lid
- Glass or ceramic pot for boiling
- Ice cube tray
- Wire mesh strainer or muslin cloth for straining
This is a two-step process. But guess what? You can skip the second step and just use the elderberries if you want. This double extraction is a cool technique that I wanted to share with you so I hope you enjoy this alternative.
Step 1: Decoction
Making a decoction is not hard. A decoction is when you boil the herbs in water rather than letting them sit in hot water for a time (infusion, or a normal tea). It is not necessary to measure your water for this. Put your elderberries into a pot and cover them with water. Get them simmering nicely and make sure they stay submerged in water, adding water as needed. You should not need more than 1.5 cups of water for this whole process. Simmer them for 20-30 minutes. I tend to go for 30 minutes for a stronger extract.
Remove from the heat and strain through the wire mesh or muslin cloth into a bowl or mason jar. Use a spoon or fork to press out extra liquid from the berries. Discard or compost the berries. If you are continuing with step 2, do not let the collected liquid cool.
Step 2: Infusion
While your elderberries are decocting, take a quart size jar and crumble up your rose and hibiscus flower petals into the jar. After you have strained your decoction, and while it is still hot, pour this into the jar with your flower petals. Stir it
around and cover it. Let this sit for 15 minutes or so. Be sure to cover it. If it is not covered the lovely aroma of the flowers will escape into the air and will not be captured in the water.
After 15 minutes, strain again using the mesh strainer or muslin cloth. Allow to cool in a covered container. When cool, pour into your ice cube trays and freeze.
Using your Ice Cubes
Assuming you form 7 ice cubes, each cube is intended for a single day, per adult. I recommend by starting to put a single ice cube into a small jar and pour hot water over it. This will melt your ice cube and dilute it down. If you want you can drink this as is. It will be delicious and strong.
You can also take this and pour small amounts of it into your water through the day to flavor your water. At the end of the day, whatever you didn’t use as flavoring you can drink down. Keep the day’s jar in the fridge between adding it to your water. The lovely glass here that you can actually see through the liquid is about ¼ of a cube in water to give you an idea of the strength of this extract.
You can also take your melted concentrate and pour it over a larger jar of ice to make an ice tea. This is a great option for the summer months. For another colder idea, you can take the melted concentrate and re-freeze it into popsicles. The concentrate is a bit too strong to do this.
You can also use this extract to make our fabulous elderberry chocolates. One cube is all you need. Do not melt it with hot water but let it sit out to melt. You may want to add a touch of honey to the chocolate recipe but it is not necessary.
What other ways do you want to use this recipe? Let us know in the comments.
Elderberry is most often used for cold and flu prevention. It has a very strong antiviral action that is both preventative and used in treatment of colds and flu. Take ¼ to ½ a cube’s worth a day (2-5g) a day as a preventative measure or a whole cube (10g) when you or a family member is sick. If they are sick, best to keep yourself nice and healthy with a higher dose.
The antioxidant content of all three of these herbs is quite high as well. Antioxidants help our bodies to reduce the normal damage that is expected from our normal activities. With out these our body can easily become inflamed with a variety of irritations including increased stress, digestive complaints, and skin irritation.
In this formula, rose adds a lovely aroma and heart lifting action if you are experiencing more of the stress associated with increased systemic inflammation. To learn more about rose, check out our free class, Herbal Medicine for the New Enthusiast. Hibiscus also adds a light tart flavor that can also help stimulate digestion in addition to its lovely antioxidant activities that have been used for millennia.
You can follow the dosing information above for adults but when it comes to using this recipe for children plan for 1 cube to be for 1 150lb adult. If your child is 50lbs, they should have no more than 1/3 of the cube a day. If needed, you can pour the concentrate into more compartments to make more cubes so you do not need to keep melting and re-freezing your extract.
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