This issue’s ingredient for optimal health: elderberries
AS BEST HEALTH CELEBRATES A DECADE OF INSPIRing Canadians to rock their health, I believe a seriously healthy celebration is in order. All great things should be marked with gratitude and celebration, and all milestones acknowledged. Let’s upgrade how we choose to do this. Why not check the sugar-laden, artificially coloured drink mixes at the door and mark the awesomeness with a level of deliciousness and a healthy dose of goodness for your body?
Making your own infused alcohol is an easy way to add a real dose of health to your beverages. This isn’t a healthwashing of cocktails; this is legit.
Traditional alcohol infusions used for medicine involve combining mighty clean alcohol (I always opt for organic vodka) with an herb or a food of choice. One of my favourites is elderberries. The medicinal components and f lavour from these immune-boosting berries infuse into the alcohol, which can be used as a tincture or mixed with cocktails.
In the spirit of celebration – while warding off upcoming cold and f lu season – we’re looking at immune-powered, Canadian-grown elderberries and the best way to take our medicine.
Elderberries are small, bluish purple berries that are grown across Canada. The best place to pick them up is at your local farmers’ market. You’ll need to remove the stems, which can be a little tedious, but here’s a trick: Freeze the berries on the stems and give them a little shake and they’ll come free. (If fresh isn’t an option, you can find them dried at your local health food store.)
Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and have long been used in treatments for the influenza virus. They also stimulate cytokine production, which helps reduce inf lammation and improve immune function. This immune function has also been shown to reduce the symptoms and duration of colds among air travellers, so it’s definitely a supplement you’ll want to add to your travel kit. They’re a mighty source of vitamin C and should be part of any immune-boosting protocol or cold and flu prevention plan.
Elderberries can’t be eaten raw like blueberries or raspberries; instead, they need to be processed in some way – either cooked or tinctured. You’ll often find elderberry served up as a tea or in herbal tea blends specifically for immune health or cold and flu formulas. I often cook elderberries down into a syrup with turmeric, ginger and honey and add them to fizzy water for a mocktail. You can tincture elderberries with vodka (hello, cocktail mixer!) and add it to your own Canadian-inspired cocktail or take it as a tincture for cold and f lu prevention. An alcoholbased infusion takes five minutes to prepare and four weeks of patience until it’s ready. If you’ve been hearing all the trendy news about drinking vinegars and shrubs, you can easily swap the vodka for apple cider vinegar and follow the same process. b