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Excuses to Travel: flu remedies

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Elderberries are good against the flu and colds. Recently, the centuries-old lore has been backed up by clinical studies of Sambucal, of which I now own two bottles. However, they didn’t come cheap at nearly ten quid each for what amounts to a 3-day-course.

Thankfully it would seem that the elderberries’ curative properties are at least partially preserved after heat treatment, and it is not necessary to concentrate them overmuch, so I am looking up recipes for wines and cordials to help us through the winter. But it will be many months before the berries are ripe for the picking.

Prompted by a (harmless but annoying) summer cold, I’m casting around for alternatives. According to Wikipedia they produce a type of brandy in Hungary (bodza pálinka) which is made with 50kg of elderberries per litre. The online price (£ 1.85/40ml) would reflect that. But I’m reasoning that the stuff’s cheaper in Budapest.

However, according to a Google image search, the spirit is clear. Part of the beneficial activity of elderberries is due to the pigments (anthocyanidins, comprising 0.2-1% of the berries and a whopping 0.5% in Sambucal). There are darker incarnations, which I suppose aren’t distilled from quite as much fruit (more like wines), and these may be just what I’m looking for. One more reason to conduct some field research 😉

I reckon there should be a EU-wide initiative looking into the benefits of elderberry drinks, which would boost the economies of several eastern/central European countries.