Elderberry syrup has been used for centuries for colds and flu. Here’s a simple recipe that you can make yourself to add to your natural medicine chest.
When I was a kid, our neighbor had an elderberry tree.
The branches stretched way over the fence and shaded a big spot in our backyard.
I was enchanted by the huge clumps of tiny, fairy like flowers at appeared in spring.
The neighbor lady taught my mom to make jelly from the dark blueish blackish clusters of berries that covered the tree in the fall. From the first bite, I was hooked!
Since that time I have used elderberries to make not only jelly, but syrup, pie, flavored vinegar, and even wine. The elder flowers make a great wine as well, but that’s a whole nother blog post.
And anywhere I’ve lived that I could find them growing wild, I’ve harvested and even dehydrated them to save for alter.
With permission, of course. It’s never a good idea to go traipsing around someone’s property without their permission…especially in the South.
Dehydrating allows you to make stuff like this Spiced Elderberry Syrup in the dead of winter when nothing but kale is actually growing outside. Or at any other time of year.
One thing to keep in mind about elderberries is that they are mostly seed. And the seed of the elderberry contains 2 alkaloids called sambucine and hydrocyanic acid.
Sambucine and hydrocyanic acid both can cause nausea and vomiting. Which is so not cool. But heating the berries for at least 30 minutes neutralizes them and makes it not do bad things to you.
So, never, ever, eat raw elderberries! Uhmkay?
Not only are elderberries pretty tasty, but they have been used to thousands of years as a remedy for colds and flu.
Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
Even though we have actual scientific evidence of elderberry’s medicinal properties, I need to post the obligatory FDA statement so they don’t fine me or shut down my site: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Studies have shown us that these little black beauties have anti-viral properties that inhibit viral replication.
Which is just a fancy pants way of saying they knock out cold and flu viruses. So I always have some on hand for cold and flu season!
They also have vitamins A, B, and C and can stimulate your immune system. Which is all good news!
In this recipe, I’ve added ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, as well as local raw honey. All of which have some medicinal properties as well, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
You should take some of this at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms to keep them from getting a foothold. You can actually take some at any time to help boost your immune system.
Or, you can use it just because it tastes good!
The honey not only sweetens the pot, so to speak, but helps it last a pretty long time as well. Honey also helps to suppress coughs and sooth a sore throat..
Not that it’s ever lasted long enough to go bad at my house…
And I always keep dried elderberries on hand so I can make a new batch when ever I need to.
And if you’re not lucky enough to have an elderberry tree, or a neighbor that has one, you can order dehydrated berries online. I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs.
In fact, I get most of my organic herbs and spices from them. And I’ve never had any complaints about any of the products I’ve ordered.
Ok. Onward to the task at hand.
Here’s what you will need to make your own elderberry syrup.
Spiced Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 1 cup dehydrated black elderberries
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced or shredded OR 4 Tablespoon dried ginger
- 1 cup raw local honey
- 3 cups filtered water
NOTE: If you want to boost the vitamin C content, you can add a few Tablespoons of lemon juice at the end when you add the honey.
To start with, pick through your elderberries and pick off any stems and pull out any leaves. Those can also cause some discomfort in some people.
Then you need to soak the dried berries in the water for 30 to 60 minutes. This allows them time to rehydrate fully.
So toss the water and elderberries on a medium sized saucepan and let them sit.
While they are soaking, I peel and slice the ginger.
Here’s a cool tip: You can use the side of a spoon to scrape the peel off of the ginger root. Nothing sharp required. 🙂
Then you can either grate it up or just slice it into rounds. Grating gives it a stronger flavor.
After your elderberries have finished rehydrating, toss in your ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. And give it a stir.
Now you need to bring it to a full, rolling boil over medium heat. Stirring frequently.
Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down so that the mixture simmers gently.
You need to let it simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes. Remember the sambucine?
I often let it simmer for a full 45 minutes.
Make sure you stir frequently so it doesn’t scorch.
And don’t put a lid on the pot while it’s simmering. We want some of the water to evaporate off.
After it’s simmered for at least 30 minutes, take it off the heat. And now let it cool for a few minutes.
Then take a potato masher and go to town! Mashing gets as much juice out of all the good stuff as possible.
Straining off the Elderberry Juice
Now it’s time to strain the liquid off. You can use a fine mesh strainer or a muslin jelly bag for this step.
If you use a sieve, press the contents with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid out.
If you are using a jelly bag, make sure you give it a good squeeze.
I usually strain it into a glass measuring cup so I can see how much liquid I have. Ideally, you want 2 cups.
If you don’t have quite 2 cups it’s not a big deal. If you have a lot less, add some water to make up the difference.
On the other hand, if you have way too much, you need to put it back on the simmer some more to reduce the volume.
When you have 2 cups(ish), go ahead and add the honey.
The juice needs to be warm enough that the honey will dissolve, but not hot enough that it will destroy any of the honey’s goodness.
Now stir it up good so that all the honey dissolves and then let it cool to room temperature.
To store, put it in a pretty glass jar or a mason jar with a tight fitting lid and put in refrigerator.
Using Elderberry Syrup
IF YOU HAVE A CHRONIC MEDICAL CONDITION OR ARE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE CONSUMING!! Some herbal remedies can interact with medications.
PLEASE NOTE: Because this has raw honey in it, do not give this to babies!
To use the syrup as a remedy, adults should take a tablespoon every 4 hours or so as soon as you notice signs of a cold or flu. Children should get a teaspoon. NOT BABIES! You can continue to use the syrup in this way for 2 to 3 days.
And you can also take a shot or 2 of Fire Cider while you’re using the elderberry syrup for some added immune boosting powers!
And there you have it! It’s that simple to make a great tasting cold & flu deterrent for your herbal medicine chest!
Have you given elderberry syrup a try? What did you think?
Frequently Asked Questions About Elderberry Syrup
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. It stays good for several months.
The seed, the stem, the leaves, and the roots of the elderberry tree contain the alkaloids sambucine and hydrocyanic acid. Both of these will cause nausea and vomiting. HOWEVER, boiling the elderberries for 30 minutes will neutralize the alkaloids and render them harmless. Just don’t eat them raw.
No you can’t. This syrup is made with honey, so please don’t give it to your baby! You can substitute sugar for the honey if you have babies at home.
More foraging and herbal recipes you might like:
- 1 cup dried elderberries
- 1 cup raw honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 Tbsp ginger fresh or dried
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 3 cups filtered water
- Soak dried elderberries in the filtered water for 30 minutes to rehydrate.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and ginger to the rehydrated elderberries. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t cover the pot.
- Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine sieve or muslin. Squeeze or mash to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Let cool slightly. While still warm, add the honey and stir to dissolve.
- When completely cool, store in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid in the refrigerator.