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Elderberry is a plant typical of mountain areas, scientific name Sambucus Nigra L. and belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family. In Italy it is found above all in Alto Adige and in the mountain areas, being a well branched shrub it can reach several meters in height. From the processing of this plant we obtain the homonymous syrup, but also decoctions, herbal teas and cosmetic preparations. The flowering of the elder takes place between May and June and is characterized by having very fragrant white flowers. The most used parts are the flowers and the fruits, which have two times of different collections.
While the flowers can be harvested between May and June, the berries must wait until the end of August when they are completely ripe. The ripe berries reach an almost blackish color, very similar to blueberries, while if they are red, they have an unripe taste and can also be irritating. The leaves and flowers are dried in the shade, while the berries should be used fresh, but they can also be frozen. Elderberry has very important active principles and phytocomplexes, it is a plant rich in flavonoids, glycosides, vitamins A B C and tannins.
The syrup is mainly derived from the elderberry. There are various techniques and methods of preparation starting from the material, the most widely used is the marinating, which involves immersing the flowers in a container with water and lemons. It starts from the collection of flowers, which must take place during the day if possible, avoiding the early morning and evening hours. Once chosen, the flowers must be cleaned accurately but not washed, so it is important to collect the inflorescences in places that are not very polluted and away from the roads. Eliminate the superfluous parts and the stems, the flowers are immersed in a container of water and are left to macerate.
There are various recipes for getting elderberry syrup, which involve the use of other ingredients including sugar and citric acid. For a more intense and sweet taste fifteen flowers are left to soak in two liters of water with two lemons cut in half. After about three hours, remove the solid parts and add three kilograms of sugar and sixty grams of citric acid and mix until completely dissolved. The product is left to rest for another twenty-four hours and finally it is filtered.
In addition to this recipe, which can be considered the most simple and classic, there are other preparation methods. You can add wine or apple vinegar and then leave the mixture in the sun, but in this case you must prevent the liquid from fermenting. The doses and marinating times vary from recipe to recipe, it depends a lot on personal tastes and on the quantity of flowers used.
Another method of preparing the syrup involves the use of the berries, to be harvested only when completely ripe, which must be crushed and then sieved and filtered. The final product in this case will be more dense and concentrated. Once the pulp is obtained from the berries, the mixture is poured into a pot with added sugar, also in this case the doses are indicative, and it is left to cook everything on a low heat for about half an hour, then it is left to cool and it is bottled. Storage must always take place in glass containers, possibly dark and hermetically sealed. The syrup keeps its characteristics intact for several months, but once opened it should be kept in the fridge or in a cool place.
In addition to homemade preparation, elderflower syrup is also produced on an industrial level, with longer storage times. The marketing of elderflower syrup is well developed in Italy, it is easy to find this product in organic stores, in food stores and even in large-scale distribution. However, always pay attention to the label with the ingredients and check that the raw materials come from organic farming.
In addition to the syrup with the elderberry plant, herbal teas and decoctions can also be prepared. The flowers and berries are typical ingredients of South Tyrolean cuisine, in fact, you can also prepare dishes and jams.
Property and use
The syrup due to the multiple properties of the plant finds various applications and uses. Syrup has many active ingredients, is rich in trace elements, flavonoids, essential oils and acids.
It has sweat properties, it increases the secretion of sweat and can be used in case of fever and colds. Helps relieve neuralgia and problems caused by sinusitis. It has laxative properties against constipation and is an excellent adjuvant for diet.
Among the properties that make this syrup a powerful ally of well-being and health are the purifying and draining function. Due to the presence of flavonoids in the juice, elderberry syrup has a targeted action on the circulatory and lymphatic system, favoring its activation, in particular helping the legs suffering from varicose veins and chronic heaviness.
Elderberry syrup is characterized by having a considerable presence of fibers in it, which are extremely useful for performing a slimming action. It is used as an adjuvant in cases of constipation and as a regulator of the intestinal system. It helps to dispose of excess waste inside the body, also improving fat metabolism. Some studies have shown that continued use of elderberry syrup, at least two months, combined with a healthy lifestyle and moderate physical activity have helped people to reduce the accumulation of fat in life, reducing centimeters of circumference. This syrup has a pleasant taste and is rich in active ingredients and vitamins, it is perfect during slimming and low-calorie diets as a beverage to break hunger, just dilute a spoon in a juice or in a glass of fresh water. Above all, it helps to combat nervous hunger and to perceive the sense of satiation first. The best results are obtained when the syrup is taken on an empty stomach diluted in water or mixed with milk and yogurt, preferably away from meals.
There are no particular contraindications in the use of elderberry syrup, but we must not exceed in the recommended daily doses. Having laxative properties, excessive use can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
This syrup is also used as a refreshing drink against the summer heat, it should be kept in a cool and dry place, after opening it should be kept in the refrigerator or in a cellar.
Other uses concern the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, also improving the health of bones and joints. The syrup also has emollient and soothing properties, it can be used to counteract states of localized inflammation, particularly when the skin is irritated. When the inflammations are greater and more serious, it is recommended to use the powder extracted from the elder bark.
In the field of aesthetics, elderflower syrup is used for the preparation of lightening and toning creams for the skin.
Elderberry syrup: Contraindications of elderberry
We have seen all the beneficial effects of elderberry and all the special properties that the berries and flowers of this plant have on our body. However, like all foods and foods, elderberry can also be discouraged in certain cases and can cause problems if it is consumed excessively. There are some types of people for whom elderberry consumption is not recommended and there are also side effects due to excessive consumption of this food.
For example, elderberry is highly discouraged for all pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding and all those who suffer from liver or kidney disease. In these cases it would always be better to ask your doctor for advice before proceeding with the use of these berries.
Besides these special cases, there are circumstances in which you should not eat elderberries. For example, when the berries are unripe, they should not be eaten because they may contain toxic substances that are dangerous to our body. The elder berries are not the only berries and undergrowth that can give nausea and problems if ingested unripe and for this reason it is always good to consume them cooked if they are still unripe. In fact, the toxic substances present in the berries are eliminated and eliminated through the cooking process.