Tag Archives: Syrup

The Curative Powers of Elderberry

elderflowerIt’s also known as American Elder, Black Elder, and Tree of Music to give a few of its many names. There are different varieties, some that grow no larger than bushy shrubs while others obtain the height of huge trees. Native Americans used the long, straight, hollowed stems that became woody with age for arrows.

Huge Bull Elk in a Scenic BackdropThey pushed all the soft and poisonous pith out of the stems with hot sticks. Indians also bored holes in them to make flutes which gave Elder its name ‘tree of music.’ Hunters lured elk closer with elderberry whistles. I referred to this use of elder in my American historical romance novel Red Birds Song.

elderberriesThe fruit was believed to have a cooling, gentle, laxative and urine increasing effect. Elderberry wine was thought to be a tonic. The berries are said to aid arthritis. The juice simmered until thick was used as a cough syrup and for colds. The rest of the medicinal was used with great caution and some parts avoided entirely. The inner bark of elder stems and the roots were generally regarded as too dangerous to experiment with, however women drank very small amounts of elderberry bark tea for bad menstrual cramps, to ease the pain of labor and help the child along. I used a potent dose of elderberry bark tea in my historical Native American romance novel, Through the Fire.

Indians and settlers believed that small amounts of potentially poisonous plants could be beneficial under certain circumstances to stimulate the body to heal or maybe because it was fighting off the poison. Native Americans shared their storehouse of knowledge regarding herbal treatments with colonists who used these remedies in combination with those lauded cures they brought with them. Elderberry was also a vital plant in the Old World.

From Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs:

Elderberry Syrup“One of the human race’s earliest plant companions (found in Stone Age sites) the elderberry has developed reputations for great powers of good…as well as great powers of evil. In some parts of the world, no prudent carpenter would make a cradle of elderberry wood for fear of bringing harm to the baby. The elderflower has been involved in human history for centuries, and one story suggests that it takes its name from a unique medicinal dimension. The generic name Sambucus may come from the Greek Sambuke, a musical instrument made from elderberry wood. For centuries the plant has had the reputation of healing the body, but in elderberry’s golden age, it made music to heal the spirit.

During its long association with humanity, the elderberry’s traditions have become an incredible jumble of conflicting currents. It provided the wood for Christ’s cross; it was the home of the goddess Freya. If seen in a dream, it meant illness was on the way; it was such a healthful plant that seventeenth century herbalist John Evelyn called it a remedy ‘against all infirmities whatever.’  It would ward off witches if gathered on the last day of April and put up on the windows and doors of houses; it was very attractive to witches and thus should be avoided after dark.
bird eating elderberriesElderberries worked their way into every aspect of living from dyeing hair black to showing berries just at the right time to signal the beginning of wheat sowing. Shakespeare had something to say about it. One of his characters called it ‘the stinking elder.’ The Shakers used it as a medicinal. The wood of the old stems, hard and fine grained, was prized by the makers of mathematical instruments. The list could go on and on for pages; elderberries stand in our gardens as old friends.”

From: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry

“Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. In many countries, including Germany, elder flower is used to treat colds and flu. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”

*Image of elderberry syrup, also below

477900653Plant Description

“European elder is a large shrub or small tree that grows up to 30 feet tall in wet or dry soil in a sunny location. Elder is native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, but it has become widespread in the United States. Deciduous leaves grow in opposite pairs and have five to seven leaflets. Flowers are white and flat-topped with five primary rays. Berries are green, turning red, then black when ripe.”

Parts Used: “The berries and flowers are used as medicine. Berries must be cooked before they are taken. Raw berries contain a chemical similar to cyanide.”

Available Forms: “Elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture, as well as in capsule and lozenge forms. Dried elder flower is usually standardized to at least 0.8% flavonoids. Sambucol is standardized to 38% elderberry extract for adults and 19% for children. Sinupret contains 18 mg of elder flower.”

How to Take It: “Do not give elderberry or any product containing elder to a child without first talking to your pediatrician.”


To Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup:


Or order the Original Sambucus: http://www.naturesway.com/Products/Winter-Season/6970-Sambucus-Original-Syrup.aspx


Welcome to the mother of all blog tours.

3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, June 13, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, June 20, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
Winners will be drawn and posted June 21st! ***

As a participating author, my theme is Summer in the Big House, Old Southern Plantation Recipes~

A gracious welcome to my stately plantation home. Please have a seat in the wicker chairs on the veranda and relax in the shade of the towering live oaks.    Listen to the warbler singing high overhead in the moss-draped boughs and savor the sweetness of jasmine while I serve refreshing mint juleps and peach upside-down cake prepared with old Southern recipes from Charleston Receipts.

This cookbook ‘was first published in 1950 and the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. It contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by Charleston artists. Inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame, an award given for book sales that exceed 100,000 copies.’

My copy is actually my mother’s book which she purchased in the early 1960’s while our family was on vacation in Charleston South Carolina.  I kind of borrowed it from her and still have it. 🙂


For each cold goblet use:

Several mint leaves, sugar syrup (2-3 teaspoons), Crushed, dry ice, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 sprig mint

Crush leaves and let stand in syrup. Put this into a cold silver julep cup or glass and add ice which has been crushed and rolled in a towel to dry.  Pour in the whiskey.  Stir, not touching the glass, and add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.~

Peach Upside-Down Cake:

1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons baking powder,  1  and 2/3 cups flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and beat well.  Pour over peach mixture. Serves six.

Peach Mixture: 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups sliced peaches

Place butter and sugar in a sheet cake pan and heat slowly, stirring constantly until well browned.  Add peaches.  Cover with cake batter, bake 3/4 hour at 350.  Turn out peach side up.   Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.  Other fruits may be substituted for peaches.  ~

For my blog hop prize, I’m giving away an ebook of my Revolutionary War romance novel, Enemy of the King, and Native American historical romance novel Through the Fire.


1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.~


At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent––or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~

Thanks for visiting me. Leave me a question or a comment here at my blog below. Please also leave your email address so I can notify you in case you are a winner!

THE NEXT STOP ON OUR FUN BLOG HOP IS AUTHOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN SO POP ON OVER TO : http://deliciousromancebyrachel.blogspot.com/2011/06/party-til-your-heels-fly-off-author.html

How to make Peppermint Schnapps and Fruit Cordials

Contributed by my friend Pamela Roller~
For a lovely homemade gift, consider giving a liqueur or cordial. Below is the promised schnapps recipe as well as recipes for various cordials, At the end I’ve listed hints for packaging ideas. Next month I’ll give recipes for liqueurs–in time for Christmas gift-giving if you like to plan ahead.
The basics:
—sugar syrup: boil 1 cup sugar with ½ cup water for 3 minutes. Cool before using. Makes 1 cup of sugar syrup.
For medium-sweet liqueurs, add 1 cup sugar syrup to a 3-cup liqueur base. For crème-type liqueurs, add 2 cups sugar syrup.
—If you use honey, clover is best.
—Brown sugar adds a distinct molasses flavor.
Glycerin is used to increase body. Use 1 teaspoon per quart of finished liqueur.
Glass bottles with lids are available at craft stores. Be sure the bottle has a tight lid or cork as air can spoil the cordial.
Cheesecloth makes for a good filter. Just be sure that no pulp from the fruit is left after straining as this will cloud the cordial.

Peppermint Schnapps (makes 24 ounces)
1 C clear Karo Syrup
1 C sugar
1 pt vodka
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract

Mix all. Ready to serve.

Smooth Orange Cordial (Make this six weeks before giving it)
12 Tbs. orange peel
2 C brandy
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp each allspice and nutmeg
2 whole cloves
2 C each sugar and water 

Place peel, spices, vodka and brandy in a quart-sized jar. Cover and let cure in a cool, dark place for two weeks. Shake the bottle twice a week to mix contents. Strain and discard the orange peel. Make a syrup of the sugar and water (boil, then simmer on low heat till syrupy). Cool. Stir the syrup into the liqueur, pour into a glass bottle and cover. Cure for four weeks.

Blueberry Cordial (Make this six weeks before giving it)
4 C blueberries
3 C vodka or gin
¼ C lemon juice
1½ C water
4 whole cloves
½ tsp coriander seeds
3 C sugar

Wash and drain berries. Crush them in a blender and add lemon juice, water, cloves and coriander. Heat (do not boil) the mixture, then scrape all into a two-quart jar. Add the vodka or gin and stir gently. Cover and store in a dark place for ten days, shaking every other day. Strain twice through cheesecloth, discarding the pulp. Add the sugar to the juice, stir, and pour into a glass bottle. Cap and cure for four weeks in a dark place. When ready, cordial should be a clear blue. Use within one year.

Plum Cordial (Make this about six months before giving it) This concoction was apparently used as an aphrodisiac by ancient physicians.

3 pounds ripe plums
2 C sugar
1 quart vodka divided into two equal parts

Pit plums and slice them. Place in a pan with the sugar and half the vodka. Place the pan on low heat, stirring, until the plums are bruised. Transfer to a quart jar, stir again to bruise plums, add the rest of the vodka and cover. Let cure for two weeks. Strain; discard plums. If taste is not sweet enough, add ¾ cup sugar syrup. Pour juice into a bottle, cap, and store for six months or until mixture is clear. The longer it is stored, the richer the flavor. Use within 1 year after opening. Makes 43 ounces.

Pear Cordial (Make this three months before giving it)
½ C water
1 C sugar
4 firm, ripe pears
4 whole cloves
1 tsp each allspice and nutmeg
4 C vodka
Bring the sugar and water to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Slice unpeeled pears and place them into a 2-quart glass jar. Add cloves and spices and stir in the sugar-water and vodka. Cover and store in a dark place for ten weeks, turning the jar upside down once a week to mix. Strain and discard pulp. Pour liquid into a glass bottle, cap, and cure for two more weeks in a cool, dark place. Makes 36 ounces.

Packaging ideas:
· glasses—open-sided for the aromatic liqueurs, brandy snifter for mild and delicate liqueurs
· Packaging depends on the type of liqueur. For chocolate, place chocolate kisses or other candy in liqueur glasses. Carefully arrange with the liqueur in a basket or flat box surrounded by color-coordinated tissue or other filler. Blue and silver packaging works well with blueberry cordial, as does gold with orange cordial. If you add food to the package, macaroons work well. Tiny flowers such as dried baby’s breath complete the ensemble.

©Pamela Roller

Easy Liqueurs for Gift Giving

Contributed by Pamela Roller

For a lovely homemade gift, consider giving a liqueur or cordial. Below are recipes for various liqueurs. Click here for cordial recipes. At the end I’ve listed hints for packaging ideas.

To sterilize glass bottles, wash in warm soapy water and then dip in water mixed with a little bleach. Rinse thoroughly.
Scotch Liqueur (Make one to two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. anise extract
1 pt. Scotch

Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise and Scotch. Swirl gently and place a tight fitting lid on it. Allow mixture to age in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Galliano Liqueur (Make two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar 1 cup water
¼ cup anise extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 drops yellow food coloring
1 fifth vodka

Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise extract, vanilla and food coloring. Swirl gently and then add the vodka. Allow mixture to age for two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Crème de Menthe (Make ten days ahead)
4 tbs. fresh mint leaves
1 fifth vodka
4 cup sugar
2 cup water
10 drops peppermint oil
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

Crush mint leaves in a mortar and pestle. Place in a glass jar and pour vodka over them. Cover and let sit for ten days. Strain, discard mint. Heat the water and sugar mixture on low heat in medium heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool. Add syrup to the mint-flavored vodka; add peppermint oil and food coloring; stir. If liqueur is not clear, filter a second time. Keeps for one year. Makes 48 ounces.

Chocolate Liqueur (From Busy Cooks at About.com)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. chocolate extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vodka
Combine sugar and water in medium heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in chocolate extract, vanilla and vodka. Pour into a sterilized glass bottle with tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dry place. This can be used as a substitute for Crème De Cacao. Makes 1 pint.

Packaging ideas: Include liqueur glasses in the gift package.· Packaging depends on the color and type of liqueur. Carefully arrange glasses with the bottle in a basket or flat box surrounded by fresh fruit and color-coordinated tissue or other filler. Tie with ribbon. Green and gold packaging works well with Crème de Menthe, as does either silver or gold with the chocolate liqueur. Tiny flowers such as dried baby’s breath complete the ensemble.

©Pamela Roller http://www.pamelaroller.com/