Made by macerating elderberries and rosehips in alcohol, this Elderberry tincture is made to boost your immune system and protect the body against cold and flu. Enriched with rosehips for an additional boost of vitamin C.
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These days one wonders, what is it about elderberries? I can see more and more recipes popping up featuring elderberries. It is not only Elderberry syrup and elderberry tea that used to be the most popular item made of elderberries. Nowadays there are plenty of delicious desserts, drinks and herbal remedies. Considered one of the most healing plants (in folk medicine) elderberries are gaining popularity every year.
And yet, there are just a few studies confirming their superpower
I found one from 2011 conducted by Bio Med Central confirming that in vitro Elderberry extract inhibits the growth of bacterial and viral cells within 48 hours.
Another study examining 60 people with influenza revealed that patients who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup 4 times a day showed improvement of symptoms in 2- 4 days. While it took 7-8 days for the control group to improve. However, further research needs to be performed on a larger scale to prove its effectiveness.
What we know is, that Elderberries are packed with antioxidants that include vitamins, phenolic acid and flavonoids that may help prevent chronic diseases (3) and reduce inflammation (4)
Similarly, you can take this Echinacea tincture when the flu and colds season hits to boost your immunity. Ans these lemon ginger turmeric shots are also very potent immunity boosters.
Similarly, rosehips possess antioxidant activities and may protect us against free radicals. Moreover, rosehips have the highest content of vitamin C when compared to other fruits and vegetables (5) Therefore they might protect our body against infection as well as help maintain a skin’s protective barrier against outside pathogens.
How to process elderberries and rosehips to protect their superpower
While elderberries and rosehips are powerful antioxidants they contain very fragile substances that if processed with heat, their antioxidant activity is rapidly reduced (5). Therefore while the syrups, jams and juices are healthy and tasty, their antioxidant activity is weak. (6)
If we want to create a product that keeps its power, go for tincture.
What is Elderberry tincture with rosehips?
A concentrated extract made by soaking dried elderberries and rosehips in alcohol (menstruum) that pulls out the active ingredients into alcohol.
The menstruum can be alcohol, glycerin or apple cider vinegar. However medicinal properties of elderberries are pulled out best in alcohol.
Alcohol suitable for tincture
The ideal is a hundred proof vodka (50%alcohol/50% water
Eighty proof ethanol (40%alcohol/60%water) is also acceptable
If adding water make sure it is distilled or filtered water
In case you use vinegar, the best is undiluted apple cider vinegar as sold over the counter.
What is the ratio?
If you are using dried elderberries use a ratio of 1:5. Meaning you put 1 g of dried herb and 5 parts of 50% (100proof) vodka for the most potent tincture.
If you are using fresh elderberries and rosehips, use a ratio of 1:2. So for 1 g of fresh elderberries and rosehips, you will use 2 ml of menstruum. The reason is that fresh rosehips and elderberries contain so much water that the alcohol would become too diluted to pull their properties from them. It is also better to use more concentrated alcohol if you can get it up to 80% proof.
How to make Elderberry tincture with Rosehips?
Collect Elderberries and Rosehips on a dry sunny day from a place you know is safe from any chemicals. When foraging elderberries make sure that they are fully ripe, dark color, red color ones, leaves and with stems removed as they are toxic and we don’t need them for our project. Wash them thoroughly and place them on parchment paper to dry. It takes several days (5-7 days), depending on the weather.
Fill a 250 ml jar with 1 cup of dried elderberries
Add 2 tablespoon of dried rosehips
Fill the jar with 100 proof vodka leaving 1 inch of headspace
Use a wooden stick to stir the mixture to release all the air bubbles, add more vodka if needed
Cover with a lid and store it in a cool place out of the direct sun for 4-6 weeks. Stir this tincture at least once per day for the first two weeks.
Add more liquid if the herbs are sticking out of the liquid.
Strain with a strainer or cheescloth and pour into dark bottles. Label it. The strained elderberries and rosehips make an excellent compost.
If you are pregnant, on medication or have certain health issues consult with family health practitioner before using this tincture.
For kids above 12 years and adults
To boost your immune system when the flu and cold season hits and for prevention take 20 drops (¼ teaspoon) with a little bit of water. It is better to take it with a meal to limit an upset stomach.
When you are already ill or start to have symptoms, use the same amount three times a day.
For kids 5- 12
To boost your immune system when the flu and cold season hits and for prevention, 12 drops (⅛ teaspoon of this tincture daily)
When you are already ill or start to have symptoms, use 12 drops ( ⅛teaspoon) three times a day.
For smaller kids, it is better to consult with your practitioner.
If you have a difficulties to administer the tincture because of its bitter taste you can mix it with honey or juice to make it sweet and tasty.
If the alcohol content concerns you, you might want to place it into very hot water or tea. The alcohol will evaporate with heat.
Sure, you can replace the alcohol with glycerine. In that case use non-synthetic vegetable glycerine, not glycerin made from animals. It has a sweet taste that children like. You will need to dilute the glycerin to a 60%glycerine / 40%filtered or distilled water. Glycerine tinctures tend to have shorter shelf life than alcohol tinctures.
When you have tinctures stored in a cool place in a glass jar they can last up to 5 years. Room temperature is fine just out of direct sun. Use plastic lids rather than metal ones as these are sensitive to erosion and might destroy your tincture. The best are amber glass bottles with phenolic caps that eliminate the problem. These dropper bottles are really handy too.
What a great idea to add rose hips to our yearly elderberry! In the garden at a previous house we grew rugosa roses and they made THE most wonderful hips. I need to plant more! There was always enough to share with wildlife, livestock and human friends, too!
Elderberry and rosehips are two of my favorite herbs for fall and winter! I make syrups and teas with them but haven't tried a tincture yet. Thanks for always having such inspiring recipes!
This is so thorough and helpful! Although I love herbal remedies and foraging, I still haven't tried elderberry! I had no idea that a tincture was more effective. I have made tinctures before with other things and rose hips are abundant here. I'll definitely try making this when rose hips are ready. Thank you so much for all this info!
I didn't know that making a syrup with elderberries would lower the antioxidant content, that's super interesting and good to know as we're heading into the flu season this year. I think I'm going to try this tincture this year.
What size mason jar do I use? A pint? Or a one cup?
Hi Tina, I used 1 cup size jar.
Do we not need to cook elderberries in order not to be toxic I read it when I was making elderberry syrup ? Or the alcohol would change something in it so it's safe? Thank you
you don't eat them in the tincture, the berries are strained before consumption. The final tincture is packed with powerful antioxidants that are beneficial for our body.
I was just about to ask the same question so thank you for asking. I got sick from eating just 2 dry berries before I found out they were toxic. My symptoms were milder than others I've read about that also ate the raw berries because I only ate two... Or I chewed them up and bc of the horrible taste, I spat them out. After researching it deeper I ram across others that had eaten more and ended up horribly sick with GI issues for days!! I was very fortunate