Over the past week or two, I’ve been harvesting from my elder bushes, making:
- Elderberry Syrup, excellent for treating colds and flu,
- Elder Leaf Salve, for bruises, muscle strains and old injuries (recipe HERE),
- Elderberry Tincture, more concentrated than syrup, plus sugar/honey-free (recipe HERE)
Elderberry Syrup is the best thing ever and I couldn’t imagine facing cold/flu season without it!
There are quite a few studies on its effectiveness against influenza, like THIS ONE (“Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.”), and you can find more by searching through PubMed.
While this recipe uses fresh elderberries, you can also adapt it for dried berries instead – see the recipe notes below.
- 1 part fresh, fully ripe black elderberries (*see note for dried)
- 2 parts water
- 1 part raw honey (check local farmer’s markets or health stores)
- optional: small bit of cinnamon stick and/or ginger root (dried or fresh)
Directions to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup
- Gather the fresh berries and make sure no stems remain. (The stems have some level of toxic compounds in them.)
- Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with twice as much water. (i.e. for 1 cup of berries, use 2 cups of water.)
- If you’d like, add a piece of cinnamon stick and/or dried or fresh ginger. These are both warming herbs and great for when you feel like you’re catching a cold. They also add an extra level of tastiness!
- Place the pan over a medium burner and bring to a simmer.
- Adjust the heat as needed, to keep the berries at a low simmer and cook for around 30 minutes, smashing the berries with a fork occasionally as they cook.
- Strain the juice from the cooked elderberries into a glass jar or pitcher.
- Discard the seeds and pulp, as the seeds should not be eaten.
- Let the juice cool to a comfortably warm, but not cold, temperature, then stir in an equal amount of raw honey.
Why raw honey? Because it has its own antiviral properties (as shown by THIS STUDY) and others like it. It also helps act as a preservative to keep your elderberry juice from spoiling quickly.
To maintain its benefits, raw honey shouldn’t be heated over around 110°F (43°C).
Storing & Using Elderberry Syrup
At this point, you can store the finished syrup in your refrigerator for several weeks. You can stretch that to a couple months if you add a generous amount of brandy, vodka or an alcohol-based tincture (like this homemade elderberry tincture) as a preservative – add up to 1/4 cup for every 1 cup of syrup. or freeze the finished syrup in ice trays and store the individual cubes in freezer bags. Always thaw herbal mixtures in the refrigerator overnight, since high heat and microwaves will destroy many of the beneficial properties. Be aware that freezing may deplete some health benefits over time, however (at least THIS STUDY suggests so) so I like to make a tincture for backup (recipe coming soonish).
Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of elderberry syrup 4 times a day, or more often if needed, when sick with cold and flu symptoms. (This is an adult dose, use less for children.) If symptoms worsen or you feel concerned, check with your doctor or family health care provider for further guidance. Honey should not be given to children under 1 year old.
*To make this with dried elder berries, use 1/2 part dried berries instead of 1 part fresh. So, for 1/2 cup dried berries, you’d use 2 cups of water. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, strain juice then mix with equal parts of honey. I buy high quality, organic dried elder berries HERE from Mountain Rose Herbs.
*Important Note* In essence, elderberry syrup is more of a food with healthful benefits, than a medicine in itself, so it’s hard to take too much. However, it’s always prudent to use moderation and see how an herb affects you, before taking a lot of it. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have chronic health conditions, or have any questions or concerns about this or any herbal home remedy. Some sources say that pregnant women should avoid elderberry, so speak with your doctor before use. While this site does its best to provide useful information for others, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk and not a substitute for medical, legal or any other professional advice of any kind. This post may contain affiliate links, which helps support the site and keeps it ad-free. Thank you! :)
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