Making most herbal medicine is super easy....knowing herbal actions; botany; wild plant ID; what herbs to use when, at what dosage and for what person (because individual constitution is super important!) - dosage, preparation and application - is not!
With that said, here is my basic elderberry syrup recipe with variations at the end.
In my experience elder both helps us from getting sick and helps shorten the duration of an upper respiratory illness if you do get sick.
You'll need water, a pan, a strainer, a spatula, a storage jar (I use a Mason jar), honey, and brandy/vodka, if desired.
½ C dried elderberries
3 C water
1 to 1 1/2 cups of honey (get the best honey you can buy - none of that watered down grocery store stuff)
¼ C vodka or brandy, if desired.
Place berries in non-reactive saucepan and cover with the water.
Simmer over low heat for 30 – 45 minutes until the liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.
Smash berries and strain with mesh strainer, reserving liquid.
Wash pan and put liquid back into pan.
Add honey, and vodka, if desired, to elderberry liquid. This helps it keep longer. You will still have to do number 6.
Keep in refrigerator. I store mine in a Mason jar.
Marshmallow root, about 1/4 cup, added at step 1 helps soothe mucus membranes (like a sore throat).
Fresh ginger - about a thumb's worth, sliced - added at step 1 boosts the anti-viral effect of the syrup for both prevention and treatment. It adds warmth, too.
Astragalus slices added at step 1. Astragalus helps "harden the outer shell" of the immune system, meaning it boosts the part of the immune system that resists novel infections like a cold or influenza. This is preventative. Discontinue if you get sick.
A pinch of licorice root at step 1 will boost the effectiveness. It just does that for anything. It also adds sweetness.
You can substitute a tincture for the plain alcohol in step 6. Sometimes I use elderberry tincture or Echinacea angustifolia tincture (boosts white blood cell production - NOT for kids or people with immune system problems).
Adding about a tablespoon of vegetable glycerin helps keep the pectin of the berries from coming out of solution and making a cloud on the bottom of the jar.
Don't want to do a syrup? No worries. Use about 2 tbs of dried berries and simmer them in 2 cups of water for a tea. Drink about a cup daily for preventative measures.
Can't get elderberries?
Simmered fresh ginger is an amazing substitute. Use a thumb's worth, sliced, to about 2 cups of water. You can add honey (or stevia), lemon, cayenne...or simmer the ginger in bone broth for a spicy savory drink.
Elderflowers make a delicious tea that boosts the immune system and treats URIs. Use 1 heaping tsp of flowers to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Drink hot.