How to make elderberry syrup

Last night I made my first batch of elderberry syrup.  It is filled with antioxidants and is good for preventing colds or treating them, depending when you take it.  I bought dried elderberries online, but if you are able to pick them fresh locally, all the better!  Here’s how simple it is to make:

Elderberry syrup

  • 1/2 c. dried elderberries (or 1 c. fresh)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 c. honey

Put the berries in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Let simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.  Mash the berries with a potato masher, and strain through a fine strainer.  Add honey while liquid is hot, stir, and bottle.  Keep in the fridge – should last 2 – 3 months when refrigerated.

I made four times this recipe and I ended up with three full quarts plus one 16 oz honey jar. I forgot to mash the berries, but since they were dried to start with, I think this was probably less important than when using fresh berries.  I added the cinnamon sticks because they taste good, but also because cinnamon kills bacteria and is great for fighting infections.   I used crystallized honey that was sitting around not being used because the kids said it doesn’t taste as good when it’s crystallized.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost to make it: I bought the dried elderberries for 7.95 lb, and used 2/3 of that (wanted to save some to tincture), so the berries were $5.30.  I used three cups of honey, and if I figured the cost correctly, each cup was $3.33 cup.  That seems high to me (I thought I paid about 2.50 per cup, less when I recently bought small 16 oz containers for 1.99 each), but I based it on googling how many cups of honey are in a gallon (supposedly nine); I buy a gallon/twelve pound container for $30.  So the honey was $10.  I’ll add in .14 for the cinnamon sticks, since I got a container that had thirteen sticks in it for .88 so each stick rounds up to .07.  The total for 12.5 cups of elderberry syrup came out to 15.44.

When you consider 4 fl. oz of Sambucol costs around $12.99, or to use their cheaper price for a larger bottle, 7.8 oz is $21.99, that’s a real bargain! Elderberry syrup from Mountain Rose Herbs is similarly priced with a 4 oz bottle being $13.25.  To put it further into perspective, 4 oz is about a quarter of a cup and 8 oz is half a cup – so I’m getting about thirty five times as much for the same price (my price for 1/4 c. is .31; 1/2 c. is .62).

Because this has a limited shelf life and I don’t want to use up my fridge space hosting three quart sized jars for months, for immediate use I kept one quart plus the little honey jar, and canned the other two quarts so I can keep them on a shelf out of the fridge.

This can be given when a child is showing signs of the cold or a flu, a tablespoon every hour or two, or you can give them a teaspoon each morning as a general immune strengthener.  This could easily be added to tea or (if you let the water boil down more so the final result is thicker) poured on top of pancakes or waffles.  Getting kids to have some of this isn’t hard at all.  This morning we gave the younger kids a teaspoon each, and a minute after ds3 got his spoonful, he came back holding out a cup and asked for a cupful!


11 thoughts on “How to make elderberry syrup

  1. How did you process the elderberry syrup in your canner? Did you fnd specific recommendations for this or did you guess based on a similar item? Thanks for all your help.

  2. Also, if you don’t mind, could you share your source for the elderberries? Maybe you bought them somewhere local, but I thought if you bought them online (I thought you might have mentioned something about getting them with an herb order, but I’m not clear) I could check it out. Thanks so much!

  3. I processed the syrup at 5 lb pressure for a few minutes. I decided to do this because it was faster than waiting for the water to heat up to water bath them (that’s always what takes a long time with water bath canning). Otherwise I would have processed it for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. I figured this based on guidelines for canning fruit juice – this is a high acid product so the main concern is basically just making sure it’s hot enough to seal the lid.

    I got the dried elderberies from Mountain Rose Herbs also has it, and according to the catalog I got after making my order with bulkherbstore, it’s cheaper – $10 per pound instead of 7.95 for a half pound. I’m planning to make an order with MRH for some other things this week, and will probably order more elderberries from them, too.

  4. Is there any difference in potency in fresh vs dried, or is that why you have different amounts in the recipe — to compensate for that?

  5. could you add echinacea roots/leaves to the concotion before boiling? kind of like a double whammy immune booster?

  6. “Hi Aviva,
    I am really getting alot out of your site…I wanted to know if you thought elderberry extract was better, just as good, or not as good as the concoction (elderberries, raw honey, cloves, cinnamon, ginger..) you recommended for getting rid of/fighting off colds or other similar symptoms. I made the concoction already, but for future reference.
    Yocheved G.”

    Yocheved – (I moved your comment here from where it was posted.) I’m sure elderberry extract would be great to have on hand as well. I can’t really say which is better since I don’t have the kind of detailed knowledge to do that, but I’ll say that I tend to prefer things brewed in my kitchen to a laboratory. :)

  7. Aviva, I just have a question that I am hoping you can help me with. I have just started on the real food way of living, but one thing that I am having trouble with is not going away. I have had fluid in my ears for over a year now. I did go to the doctor before I was eating the real food and they gave me an antibiotic and it did not help. I have made the elderberry syrup, but that did not help either. I am sure it has to do with my sinuses, but I have not idea how to get the fluid out of my ear. It is my right ear at that. I do have trouble hearing and holding a tune because of the fluid being there.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!!!!

    1. Hi, Christy, welcome! I don’t have personal experience with fluid in the ears, so I’ll just share my general thoughts. Generally fluid in the ear is associated with middle ear infections. Ear infections like these are caused when bacteria are trapped in the ear and the fluids build up instead of flowing through as they usually do. If you’re eating well, then hopefully you’re addressing the underlying issue that caused the infection, but our bodies are assaulted by so many toxins that sometimes we need to do more than just stop making a mess (euphemistically speaking) to get things clean! I’d probably take some very large doses of vitamin C to give my body the extra immune support to fight the underlying problem. Warm compresses might be helpful, as well as putting in a few drops of warm garlic oil or mullein oil. That’s the direction I would go in, and I’d also do some googling to look for other information and ideas.

      I also think a chiropractor or craniosacral therapist/osteopath would be very valuable to help align everything properly, which would allow the fluids to drain out. Good luck, and I hope that this resolves soon!

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