When I first heard about the spread of the novel coronavirus, I knew it was time to start turning my antiviral elderberries into a delicious flu remedy.
I have long known about the potent antiviral properties of elderberries and specifically planted two edible varieties in my garden to help combat seasonal colds and flues.
I typically turn the berries into a tart and sweet fruit sauce that can be administered as a pleasant remedy or enjoyed as part of a posh dessert. However, with the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) I decided to turn this year’s harvest of elderberries into an antiviral remedy that I can share with my friends and neighbours.
–-Note: Elderberries are not a coronavirus cure, and their effectiveness hasn’t been tested. It’s better to practice social distancing and good handwashing to prevent infection. For the latest information check out the World Health Organization’s website.–
Research into the Antiviral properties of elderberries
There is actually quite a bit of research into the antiviral properties of elderberries. Here are just a few reports for anyone interested in some dry bedtime reading:
- Elderberries have a strong antiviral effect on the H1N1 virus.
- It reduces the duration of viral flues by more than half. A result which was also confirmed by this study.
- This study looked at how elderberry compounds inhibited a virus’s entry and replication within human cells.
- Even small concentrations of elderberry have proven effective against respiratory bacterial strains and flu viruses.
These studies suggest that a clinically effective dose is around 15 ml (1 tbsp) of elderberry juice. Since my recipe dilutes the tart elderberries with sweeter fruits, I recommend dosing with 2 tbsp daily at the earliest onset of flu symptoms.
How to safely pick and prepare elderberries
The trick about harvesting elderberries is that the plants are REALLY poisonous. The berries are also DEADLY poisonous if not properly prepared. So if you decide to partake in harvesting, preparing and eating elderberries, make sure you know what you are doing.
Otherwise, buy freshly harvested fruit at farmer’s markets or dried elderberries online.
Here are a few basic rules for harvesting elderberries:
- Only the flowers and ripe (black) berries are edible. The twigs, leaves, stems and unripe berries are POISONOUS.
- Most (not all) varieties of elderberry produce fruit that is edible when cooked. So, I recommend always cooking elderberries before eating, just to be certain.
- However, some varieties of elderberry don’t produce edible fruit, and even the berries are poisonous. So proper identification of the species is best.
- After harvesting, the berries need to be washed and taken off the stems. The internet suggests freezing the berries to get them to fall off the stems, which I have tried several times without success. Instead, I gently rub the stems so that the berries fall off.
Antiviral elderberry sauce
Typically, I turn my elderberries into a delicious sauce, which is perfect for serving with ice cream or waffles. However, I always keep a few jars on hand to use as an antiviral treatment.
The basic recipe below is a simple and low-sugar blend of tart elderberries and sweeter fruit. The chia seeds add fibre, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also used to thicken the sauce.
Elderberries are typically ripe at the end of August and in early September. Here are a few ways to preserve your batch of elderberry sauce for the cold and flu season.
- Canning: If you want to water bath can jars of elderberry sauce, then you will need to add a 1/4 cup of white sugar to act as a preservative. Heat process 250ml filled jars for 15 minutes.
- Freezing: I recommend freezing in straight-sided jars because it’s easy and doesn’t require any extra sugar. Jars of fruit sauce will last in the freezer for up to 1 year.
- Fermentation: For a probiotic and fermented elderberry sauce, add 2 tbsp of white sugar during the boiling. Then allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Stir in 1/4 cup of a probiotic starter (like brewed kombucha, water kefir or ginger bug). Allow to ferment at room temperature for 3 days, then store in the fridge for up to 1 month. You can also freeze fermented fruit sauce without affecting the probiotic benefits.
Antiviral Elderberry Sauce
This antiviral elderberry remedy is essentially just a low-sugar fruit sauce with some potent properties. See the section above for more information on the antiviral properties of elderberries and for information on how to make a fermented elderberry sauce.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: Fruit
- 2 cups elderberries (see above for important safety information)
- 2 cups sweet fruit (blueberries, apples or pears)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- Be sure to use properly prepared elderberries (see section above for more information). Alternatively, you can buy dried elderberries online. Use 1/2 cup of dried elderberries with 2 cups of water instead of fresh elderberries.
- Place the elderberries, sweet fruit and chia seeds in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and simmer until the fruit is cooked and soft.
- Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week or see the section above for information on longterm storage options.
- Elderberries are quite tart, so feel free to add a bit of honey or maple syrup if you want to sweeten the fruit sauce.
- To use as an antiviral remedy, take 2 tbsp per day at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms.
- See the section above for instructions on how to turn this simple elderberry sauce into a probiotic and fermented elderberry sauce.
Keywords: antiviral, immune, coronavirus, cold, flu, COVID-19, remedy, winter, fall, spring, sugar-free, healthy, fermented, probiotic, vegan, keto, gluten-free, paleo