One of my favorite things about elderberries (Sambucus spp.) is the colorful rainbow of possibilities they provide! I love to showcase this ‘magic trick’ for my students during the elderberry harvest. This year my apprentice caught it all on camera, so we decided to share this magic with you! Scroll down for a fascinating chemistry experiment.
Elderberries contain Anthocyanins, a collection of antioxidants that protect the berry from environmental damage due to sun, weather & disease. These powerful protective ingredients are part of the medicine of elderberries, providing anti-inflammatory and cell-protective properties to humans, animals and birds.
Anthocyanins have the amazing ability to change their color! Depending on a number of factors, anthocyanins can appear medium blue, indigo, purple, bright pink or ruby red. Anthocyanins can even be used to create a lovely green shade! This makes elderberry a unique natural dye for coloring fabrics, cordage and tissue paper craft projects.
Why the color changes? Anthocyanins react heavily to the pH of their environment – acidic solutions will be on the red end of the spectrum, and basic solutions tend towards green/blue. These antioxidants also darken in appearance to produce lovely purple, green, or brown colors when oxidized. Oxidation occurs naturally in response to exposure to light, heat, repeated freezing, fermentation and drying. This is one of the reasons that fresh elderberry syrup is a much brighter color than syrup made from dried berries.
Boon Michinn means “good medicine” in the Michif language. You can find out more about the Metis people and see a dictionary of words in Michif through the Gabriel Dumont Institute.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is elderberry syrup used for? Elderberries have a long and distinguished history of use, and an impressive repertoire of scientific research to support it. Elderberry syrup is traditionally used at the onset of a cold, flu or other viral illness, to prevent infection or shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
How much elderberry syrup should I take?1-2 tsp. as needed, to reduce a fever, or to ease aches and pains associated with chronic or acute illness. When you feel the first tickle in your throat, grab your elderberry syrup! For prevention or to shorten the duration of a cold/flu, it may be helpful to take 1 tsp. every couple hours. Research shows that elderberries are best taken during the onset of a cold, rather than daily, when prevention of illness is the goal.
Are there other ways to use elderberry syrup?Oh my goodness, Yes! You can apply elderberry syrup to a cold sore on your lip to speed healing. Have a couple of teaspoons in hot water to ease inflammatory arthritis. Rub it on a teething baby’s gums. Mix it in your cranberry juice to relieve urinary tract pain. Drink it with sparkling water or pour it on waffles for a delicious treat. There are a million ways to use elderberry syrup.
Why is the syrup sometimes a different shade of red/purple? Our elderberry syrup is all natural, and the appearance can change depending on a few factors. The color of elderberry is dependent on the conditions of naturally occurring antioxidants known as Anthocyanins. Even the pH of water used to cook the berries can change their color from blue, to purple, to bright pink or red! (Learn about this fascinating chemistry here). Other factors effecting the color of the syrup include: 1. Location of harvest – Our Calgary berries tend to produce pink syrup, Montana berries tend towards purple
2. Weather conditions before harvest – berries that have been through a few frosts are naturally purple in color
3. Syrup occasionally contains elder flowers as well as berries. Elderberry trees often have flowers and ripe berries at the same time, a rare property in a fruit tree! Flowers contain anti-viral properties, and may lighten the appearance of the syrup.
How long will a bottle of Marie Rose’s Elderberry syrup last? The syrup is shelf stable but lasts longest in the refrigerator, where it may stay fresh for more than a year. To increase shelf-life, avoid drinking directly from the bottle, and store away from light to preserve the antioxidants. If the syrup turns cloudy, grows mold or smells/tastes stale, please be safe and dispose of the remaining product.
What ingredients are in MR Elderberry syrup? Naturally grown black elderberries (S. nigra) and flowers, organic cane sugar, water and grain spirits (10%) are the only ingredients we use.
Elderberries are naturally ‘dry’, tart, and low in sugar. Marie Rose’s Elderberry syrup contains 1/2 the sugar of a most syrups.
The black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is most suited to making medicine. Elderberries are high in antioxidants, which gives them natural anti-inflammatory and cell-protecting properties. Syrups made with fresh elderberries contain more antioxidants than dried berry syrups.
Elderberries are traditionally consumed by everyone, ages 0-101. Breastfeeding or pregnant moms, and even infants, can consume cooked elderberry syrups and juices.
A special cooking process ensures the safety of the elderberries in our syrups.
The traditional drying method of First Nations Peoples are another great way to safely process elderberries for consumption in the winter months.
A Wickedly Witchy Workshop in Celebration of Hallowe’en includes broom/smudge making & potions workshop, and an evening of dream journeying under the guidance of Mother Mugwort.
Mugwort is the Mother herb of many pre-christian cultures, used as a cleansing smudge or a potion to dispel bad spirits and keep the evil ones at bay. Modern and historical uses reveal why this potent herbage is revered by Maiden, Mother and Crone alike.
Celebrate the changing of the seasons by crafting your own broom or smudge wand from freshly harvested Mugwort, used to sweep out old energy and make room for fresh magic in homes and altars. Mugwort tea and other traditional harvest beverages will be served as we listen to tales of Artemis’ Medicine.
Make a Harvest Broom from fresh herbs
Tie a smudge stick using the european sage (mugwort)
Hear pagan tales of herbs, harvests, and hallowe’en
Learn medicinal properties & make a potion with the green witch
Costume Contest – spookiest costume wins a spooky prize!
Sample traditional harvest beverages (Please BYO Mug)
Magic & Mugwort Hallowe’en Workshop (Admit 1)
Wickedly Witchy Dream Journey (Admit 1)
Address: 23031 Township Road 380, Red Deer County T0M0V0
Whether you celebrate Hallowe’en, Samhain, Harvest or just love dressing up, join us in costume or as-you-are for an evening of witchy fun and creation!
“The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love…. It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community. A community practicing understanding and loving kindness. A community practicing mindful living. The practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Next Buddha May Be A Sangha” in Inquiring Mind journal, Spring 1994.
Within this three to four day gathering I wish to cultivate a community sharing information, reminders, and a call to awakening. Through the sharing of medicine we remind each and every
single person how beautiful we really are. We care for our home, each other, and our conscious awaking.
This particular Sangha focuses on medicine through the light of Kosha. Kosha is the multi-integrated layers of a human being. Anna (physical being), Pranna (energy being), Manna (the mind), Vigna (intuitive wisdom), and Annanda (connection to source).
Energetic presenters focus on Prana (breath), mudras, Chinese medicine/chi, Doshas-Ayurveda, and herbal medicine.
Intellectual presenters focus on chakra, psychology, belief systems, meditation, cultural healing, and intentional community living.
On the final day we will unite all the Koshas to open up the creativity of dance and music, prayer, and the creation of Maitreya in all of us.
Website and details to be provided soon. In the meantime please bookmark this page and check back often for updates. Namaste!
We are in construction but expect to be up by January 2013. Thanks for stopping by – please bookmark us for access to herbal and health information, appointments, professional blog and the on-line apothecary, all coming in the New Year!
Herbal Medicine and Wellness Services. Traditional Metis Culture.