It is cold and flu season and homemade Elderberry jelly from Connie’s Preserves is in hot demand. Why? The elderberry shrub used in our elderberry jelly has a natural chemical that attacks and neutralizes cold and flu viruses.
And because the Covid-19 virus is in the same family of viruses as the common cold, Connie’s Preserves has had an increase in elderberry jelly orders since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to WebMD.com, “The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They could help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. Some experts recommend elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms.”
The plant’s botanical name, Sambucus canadensis, may be familiar to some. Sambucol, a product found on the cold and flu aisle at many local pharmacies is made from the elderberry plant.
Elderberry can be found growing wild in woodland areas or in ditches. The Connie’s Preserves crew harvest in local areas in South Georgia as well as on our farm. We grow our own elderberry in a small plot and tend them year-round. In the Spring, a flurry of white flowers (which are also edible, by the way, and used in elderflower recipes) turn into dark purple berries. Typical elderberry berries are slightly larger than the size of a BB-gun pellet. The elderberries are ready to pick in the late summer and, depending on the variety, continue ripening until the Fall.
Harvesting is a labor-intensive task. The small berries are picked by hand and sorted. After they are washed, we either dehydrate them and store them in vacuum-sealed bags for use later or we immediately boil them in spring water to make fresh jelly.
Although the jelly doesn’t have the same strength as the elderberry syrup or tincture, it may still have some health benefits. One sure benefit: it tastes good!
Schmear the jelly onto a bagel, smooth over toast, or pile it on some hot waffles. Some people also spread it over a lump of cream cheese and scoop cheese and jelly onto a cracker for a snack. Whatever your preference, don’t be afraid to venture away from the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich option.
Note: In addition to elderberry jelly, Connie’s Preserves also makes elderberry teas. The tea bags feature dehydrated elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Send Connie’s Preserves an email to ask about availability of the tea bag sets.