If you’ve been watching the reports about an unusually strong respiratory virus sweeping across the U.S. and looking for more ideas to give your family’s immune system a boost, you may want to give this recipe a try – or make your own variation.
I made “jello flu shots” by infusing immune boosting herbs in finger gelatin made with fruit juice. Call them what you like, and enjoy some extra anti-oxidants and cold and flu fighting herbs.
These are not made from the prepackaged gelatin dessert. The color comes from fruit and vegetable juices. They are thickened with plain gelatin, or agar agar can be used if you need a vegan alternative.
Which Herbs Boost the Immune System?
There are many herbs that boost the immune system, although not all of them are “jello-friendly”. For instance, I know garlic jello is just not going to fly. Body and Soul~Mind and Spirit lists arandanon, astraglaus, calendula, cat’s claw, echinacea, garlic, ginger, hyssop, sage, St. john’s Wort and turmeric. Everyday Health lists cinnamon (and carrots and grapefruit). Natural News lists echinacea, ginseng, garlic, bell peppers, ginger, turmeric, gingko biloba, ganaderma, astragalus and cat’s claw. Mint family plants such as peppermint and lemon balm are also anti-viral.
For ease of use, I grabbed some cinnamon sticks and dried ginger root, some mint leaves and echinacea tea. I encourage you to experiment with different combinations. Do always check for any drug interactions if you are on medication. Most common culinary herbs are pretty safe, but there are a lot of meds out there so it’s best to double check, especially if you’re consuming in quantity (meds or herbs or both).
Immune Boosting Herbs in Finger Gelatin
- 4 envelopes (1 ounce) unflavored gelatin (That’s 3 tablespoons plus one teaspoon of bulk gelatin) Knox Gelatin is readily available at most grocery stores. Great Lakes Gelatin is certified Kosher. You could also substitute agar agar.
- 1 cup cold fruit juice*
- 3 cups fruit juice, heated with herbs or 2 cups hot fruit juice plus one cup tea*
- 2 tablespoons honey, optional
*Possible fruit/herb combinations include:
Apple/Cinnamon/Ginger – 1 cup cold apple cider, 3 cups hot apple cider simmered with 2 cinnamon sticks and 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger root or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
Apple-Carrot/Echinacea – 1 cup cold apple cider, 2 cups carrot juice, 1 cup echinacea tea
Apple-Carrot/Ginger – 1 cup cold apple cider, 2 cups carrot juice plus 1 cup apple cider, simmered with 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger root or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
Apple/Mint – 1 cup cold apple cider, 2 cups hot apple cider, 1 cup peppermint tea
Pomegranate/Lemon Balm – 1 cup cold pomegranate juice, 2 cups hot pomegranate juice, 1 cup lemon balm tea
Orange/Ginger – 1 cup cold orange (or carrot) juice, 3 cups hot orange juice simmered with 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger root or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
Prepare hot ingredients – If using juice with herbs, place juice and herbs in medium saucepot and simmer for 10 minutes. If using tea, brew tea and let steep for 10 minutes, covered, then mix with juice in saucepot and heat to boiling.
Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in large bowl; let stand 1 minute. Add hot juice and stir until gelatin dissolves completely, about 5 minutes. Stir in honey if desired. Pour into 13x9x2 inch pan. (Half batches can be molded in a bread pan or 9×9 pan.)
Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. To serve, cut into 1 inch cubes. Makes about 9 dozen.
The boys, not too surprisingly, liked the apple/cinnamon/ginger best, but I’ll keep experimenting. I think this is a fun way to get in more herbs.
P.S. – You could use spiced elderberry wine for a grown up version.