Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grape Elder Conserves

I just can't seem to let elderberry season go by without posting about this marvelous plant at least once. I collect these native berries at their peak of ripeness to make extracts, elixirs, jams and syrups. These medicines carry us through the cold and flu season because elderberries are incredible for the immune system. Folks who rely on echinacea to boost their immune system would do well to get to know elder instead. It is much more reliable in this way, as even the scientific literature indicates. When introducing this sacred plant to folks, I say that elderberries are Nature's alternative to the flu shot. While a flu shot may be effective for the one or two strains of flu scientists predict will cause the most trouble for the coming season (while introducing a host of toxins into the body), elderberries are effective for all strains across the board. They are antiviral as well as immune building. It's a combination you can't beat for colds and flues, and I have seen time and again as this herb drastically reduces the recovery time of these conditions.

But elderberries are also a valuable food, and have traditionally been baked in pies and made into jams. It's a great way to let your food be your medicine. With a grove of elder to harvest from, I am often looking for different ways to process elderberries. I like to combine them with other (tastier) berries for jam, but this year I had my first big harvest of our concord grapes, so I decide to make a grape elder conserve.

I harvested seven cups of grapes for the conserve. These grapes have seeds, so in order to remove them I froze the grapes...

Then, I dipped the frozen grapes in cool water so their skins would slide off. I set the skins aside in a bowl and simmered the grapes until they were soft and mushy. I pushed the mushy grapes through a colander to remove the seeds, and added them back to the pot, along with the skins, two cups of elderberries...

a half cup of raw, wildflower honey, and a quarter cup of lemon juice. After simmering for a couple minutes, I poured my conserve into sterilized jars and canned them in a hot water bath.

Grape elder conserves for the pantry is both food and medicine during cold and flu season...great as a topping on pies, tarts, and even ice cream...

Enjoy your medicine!

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