Elderberry Extract at Home

I am so excited! I finally sat down to learn how to make our own elderberry extract right here at home, honestly it was because I have been ill for about two weeks now and twenty dollars a bottle for elderberry supplements was not cutting it. I am so thankful I did, it really is easy to make and yes, it really is cost effective.

My first task was to find a local source for elderberries, since I was having little patience and I didn't want to spend money on shipping costs just yet, by blessings from Abba my local health food store lady happen to carry them in bulk... for l.e.s.s.

Dried Elderberries:

How I Made It:
  • Place 1/3 c of dried elderberries into a pint mason jar.
  • Fill the pint jar with vodka, often Everclear is recommended, but I used a different brand for my first batch.
  • Cover the jar with a lid, and label. I wrote down the date and what the extract will be when it is finished, in this case ...Elderberry Extract. 
  • Let the mixture sit in a cool dark place for about four to six weeks, shaking occasionally each week. After this time, test the strength of your extract, this process was very similar to making my own vanilla extract, so I am assuming the longer time will yield a stronger extract.

Once the extract has reached the desired strength, strain out your spent elder berries and toss, reserve your extract in a clean glass jar, preferably one of a tinted color. So Simple.

The Cost:
  • For two pints of Elderberry Extract I paid about $18.00 ~ the health food store lady was really impressed and asked me to bring my mixture in when it is complete. She is interested in making some along with her own vanilla extract and gave me a source for colored bottles. 

I don't plan on being sick for another three weeks, but in the event some one else is, I have them covered. Now my goal is to keep on top of my extract making... so I have it before the illness occurs.

Inspiration For My Learning:
  • GNOWFGLINS - Vanilla Extract
  • Home Shalom - Pamela's recipe in the For Zion's Sake cookbook
  • My health food store lady, I am really poor with names, now faces... faces I remember, but I wanted to add her anyway.

* 'Alternative Medicine' information within these pages and links of my blog, it is just that: information. Please do NOT take it as medical advice, I am not a certified professional in the area of 'Alternative Medicine' and what I have gleaned else where I apply with discretion. Please be responsible for yourself.

{review} The Urban Farm Handbook

I was really excited to find out that I would be reviewing The Urban Farm Handbook, as you know we love to grow and farm whatever we can here in our hometown yard, but we had left for vacation before I received it the mail... hence the length of time it took me to share the review.

But what a lovely surprise I had in my stack of mail when I returned, and after settling back in to the swing of life, I read the entire book in one day, yes in one day and as my 'green' thumb devoured the pages, my other hand took notes and marked ideas.

Book Details:
  • Colored Softcover, with black and white pages, however there are many full color photos sprinkled throughout all three hundred and eighty three pages.
  • Sells for $24.95/ prices vary from providers such as Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
  • Written by: Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, Annette blogs at Sustainable Eats, home of the The Urban Farm Handbook Challenge.

My Likes & Thoughts:
  • Loved It! I think this resource would be worth the price.
  • I liked the break down of the Seasonal Chapters, having one for each season, and the 'what we are eating now' lists. This is great for those who are trying to eat more seasonally and for those who would like to start growing or are growing more of their own seasonal produce. 
  • Another part I found encouraging was "Annette's Shopping List", set up similar to the before and after experience ... with headers of original and revised lists for her grocery needs. In one of my favorite chapters, chapter twelve, the list was amazing in the differences from her original list to the revised one, this chapter left me very encouraged. 
  • The recipes, Annette and Joshua included quite a few recipes for each seasonal harvest, including a cheese recipe that I am desiring to try. I would also like to try to make Annette-the-Cheese as well!
  • The history, processing practices and nutritional facts shared through out this book... here are two examples pertaining to wheat at it's processing.
"The whole wheat flour you buy in the grocery store corrects some of these problems. [referring to the loss, and process of the bran and the wheat kernel expressed in its above paragraph] At the end of the milling process, the millers recombine some of the nutritious parts with the white flour. But once it's milled, the flour spoils quickly." ~ Pg 34.
"Grain is a commodity in the United States - grown on mono-crop farms and sold to the cooperative running the grain elevator. Mingled with grain from other farms, it sits in the silo until beckoned by the call of the mill. Having perhaps come in damp from the field, it may begin to mold, before being fumigated to prevent mold from spreading throughout the silo. In the mean time, the grain's sweet smell attracts bugs and rodents. One can only hope that inspectors will spot most of the moldy kernels, bugs and rodent hairs before milling." ~ Pg. 25
  • Finally, the resource list in the back of the book was something I found very helpful and the produce eating plan, which helps you figure out just how much produce you really eat. After completing the plan you would be able to answer 'would it be worth growing this myself?' or 'would it serve our family better to buy it from a local farmer?' Questions we should ask before planting the garden...

  • Our family only consumes biblically clean food, as listed in Leviticus 11, so the sections on raising {and harvesting} rabbits and pigs were not appealing to me. But I did appreciate what was said about eating organically raised meats and the detailed process of purchasing these meats from a local producer. 

Truly this book is an asset to the urban farmer, because it's more than how to book, it's an idea book, an activist at heart book, a book to encourage you to give growing your own food a try... could you image never setting foot in a big box grocery store again.

~ Oh the joy!

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of The Urban Farm Handbook, published by Skipstone, for my honest and frank review, no other compensation was received. A cherished resource for my library.