As part of our homeschool, my children and I take nature walks, pick up samples along the way and tote them home. Once back inside our snug little shouse, we research the samples, draw pictures in our nature journals and record all of the new information we learned with vast diagrams and essays. This is a favorite class in our school - blending a pleasant afternoon stroll with the exploration of God's creation. It is also the perfect way to teach our children the significance of education - how reading, writing and even drawing helps us to know about the world around us.
On one of our excursions, we plucked a number of humble Elderberries from their bush. The research we conducted on Elderberries was fascinating! It seems as though Elderberry is a scientifically valid remedy for both Influenza A and Influenza B, affecting a complete cure within 2 to 3 days. Elderberry is also high in Potassium, rendering it a very effective, locally obtained ingredient in Oral Rehydration Solution, which is used to treat Cholera and other diarrhea producing illnesses.
As I sat contemplating the numerous health benefits of the Elderberry, I struck upon an idea that generations before me knew instinctively. Why not Elderberry wine? Think about it - the main ingredient in most flu and cough medicines on the market is alcohol. Why not combine the health benefits of Elderberry with the sleep inducing attributes of a glass of wine? Now, to be sure, we are not drinkers. Truth be told, I hate the taste of wine. However, if we can't get cough medication, or a flu remedy or a sleep aid, wouldn't it make sense to have something on hand to help care for your family when they have been laid low? Particularly something that would be more effective than the store bought stuff anyway?
And so, we made Elderberry wine. I sought a recipe that would use only what we had on hand - nothing exotic or fancy. I ended up with an old recipe that came from the Scottish countryside. It uses nothing more than berries, sugar, lemon juice, raisins and yeast - all things that are easily stored. Of course, it will take many months for the wine to ferment and then age, so we will have no idea how it tastes for some time, but I will keep you posted.
Elderberry Wine What I used
3 lb. elderberries (remove stalks) 11 lbs berries
3 lb. sugar 22 cups sugar
1 lemon 3/4 cup lemon juice
1 lb raisins (could use sultanas) 3 1/4 lbs raisins
1/2 ounce of yeast 1 pkg. vintners yeast (Bordeaux)
1 gallon water 3 1/4 gallons water
To remove the berries from the stalks, use a fork.
Put berries in a sanitized bucket and pour on gallon of boiling water. Mash the berries against the side of the bucket, then put in the raisins. Cover and leave for 3 or 4 days. Strain and tip the liquid back into the bucket; add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Squeeze the lemon and add all the juice. Sprinkle on the yeast. Cover for 3 days, strain again and pour wine into demijohn. Fix airlock and leave until bubbling completely stops (about 5 months). Strain and bottle off. The wine could be ready to drink in about 4 months (if too young leave it for much longer). Has a lovely red color.
|Using a fork to strip the berries|
|Pouring boiling water over the berries|
|Mashing the Elderberries|
|Adding the raisins|
|Straining the wine through cheesecloth (and a strainer)|
|The spent berries and raisins|
|Pouring the strained wine into the demijohn|
We are anxiously awaiting our finished wine. It is actively bubbling along, on our counter. There is nothing like a science experiment in your kitchen.
I can't help but think that the more we can do for ourselves, the better off we will be. Knowing your local plant life could be the difference between life and death.
|Our in-kitchen science experiment|