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:
- 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!