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Elderberry Syrup Time!

The Elderberries are ripe and we’ve been picking them. Here’s my Elderberry syrup recipe. I’ve included the spices that I’ve been using in my Elderberry Syrup for a few years now.  We like it a lot!  In fact, I could just drink it, it’s that good.

A few years ago I learned about the usefulness of elderberry syrup to fight off viruses. I learned about it while my husband was doing research for his 19th century doctor impression that he does when we reenact. I have a feeling that I got sick this winter because I had not been taking it. It is a preventative mainly, but you can take it if you get sick too, to help you get better more quickly.

Some of the scientifically documented benefits of elderberries that I have read about:
*Boosts the immune system
*Contains 3 types of flavonoids. Flavonoids help the body to fight at least 8 kinds of flu viruses.
*Stops the production of hormone-like cytokines that cause inflammation.
*Reduces excessive sinus mucus secretion.
*Some studies indicate that they reduce swelling of mucous membranes and improve sinus drainage by decreasing nasal congestion.

I’ve been making elderberry syrup ever since I first read about it. Here is how I make it and how we use it. I am not recommending that you use it. You will need to do your own research about elderberries and determine if it is something you want to use for your family. And if you are pregnant or nursing, please consult your doctor or health care provider before you use elderberries.

You need to cook those berries!

Its also very important to use completely ripe elderberries, don’t use pieces of stems or leaves and to cook the berries and juice before using it in syrup or in tinctures. Although enzymes and probiotics are retained if you do not cook the berries and liquid, its not very safe to use raw elderberry juice in your syrups and tinctures.  Unripe or uncooked berries can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, weakness dizziness and  numbness.  You can see why it is especially important to cook the berries and juice before using it with children.  

Elderberries grow all over the place around Tennessee back roads and the edges of fields. We find lots of it at my mother-in-law’s farm and quite a bit more along country roadsides. Elderberry blooms in May and sets fruit in June. You want to pick ripe berries to make the syrup.

Don’t bother picking individual berries. Just cut off the whole stem of berries and place each bunch into a plastic bag. If you pick first thing in the morning, you won’t need to wash them, I don’t recommend washing them anyway. You can keep them stored for months and months before using them.

When you get them home, tie up the bag and pop the whole thing into the freezer until you are ready to make your syrup. I usually have to pick at least three times to get enough berries to make syrup.

Some people dry the berries and use them for syrup. I don’t go to that trouble, I make the syrup from fresh berries. Here are the proportions of berries, water and sweetener you need and the basic instructions.

1 3/4  cup fresh berries
3 cups fresh, preferably filtered, water
2/3 cup sucanat OR 1 cup honey. I use honey.

If you want to include the spices in your syrup, here they are, but they are optional:
1 teaspoon of peeled, grated ginger
1 4-5 inch long cinnamon stick
4-6 whole cloves (to your taste)


Combine berries, sweetener, spices if using, and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the concoction is reduced by about half.
Check to see if it is thick enough for you by taking a tiny amount of the liquid on a cold metal spoon. Blow on the liquid and then tilt the spoon to see if the liquid is thick and runs off the spoon slowly.
Strain out the berries and solid matter, and press the berries as you strain, to extract all the juice. Let the syrup cool and then bottle it. I use mason jars and corked bottles. It will keep in the frig almost indefinitely, but I make it fresh every summer. You can even store it in the freezer!

If you’ve missed the berries this year, mark the plants with a ribbon or piece of cloth so you can find them next year. Let your tag stay there all year so you can use the blossoms if you want to. They are hard to see once they make berries so leave your tag on as long as possible.

It’s not an exact science, and you will probably get a different concentration each time you make it. Practice will tell you how long to cook it and how much to take each day. I don’t think you can over-do it dosage wise, it is very mild, but of course you will want to do your own research and find out all you can before making elderberry syrup.

All the adults in our house take 1 tablespoon per day. The children anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons. When ill with a flu-like virus, an adult can take a tablespoon three or four times a day. This is just what we do, you will need to do research to find dosages that are right for your family.


To can this syrup:

Add 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice per half pint of syrup.
Cover with hot lids and rings, water bath can for 15 minutes.


  1. joyelliott

    Can this be canned so you could keep till needed

    • Sylvia

      Joy I canned it last year. I used half pint jars and water bath canned it for 15 minutes. It still seems to work well.

  2. Sarah

    I have a quick question. I have made the syrup and used up my juice supply. I only have a “cottage cheese ” container full of elderberry/apple juice mixed. Do you think this would be ok to use too?

    • Sylvia

      Hi Sarah
      The juice combo will work to make a syrup, but I think you probably realize that it won’t be as potent as it would using elderberries along.

      • Sarah

        Yes, and thank you , I was thinking some was better than none. My husband and I love the idea of freezing them on the stem. The frozen berries probably fall right off. I normally put fresh stems(always seem to fall in ) and berries together in the juicer, but like your way better. I am getting ready to render some lard, any tips?

        • Sylvia

          Cut off as much skin from the fat as you can before you render. Use a pot that is bigger than you think you’ll need.
          Cut the fat into small pieces before adding it to the pot. Stir and melt, stir and melt….

          A slow cooker works great and you don’t have to check on it all the time!
          Leave the fat in the cooker, covered on LOW. Just stir every now and then.

          When there is nothing solid except a few “cracklings”, you’re done. Let it cool and then start packing it. I use mason jars. You can use smaller containers, like plastic sour cream containers, etc, then pop the fat out and put it in a ziplock bag to store it in the freezer.

          Fat that is stored in mason jars just needs to be stored where its cool.
          Sylvia recently posted..The 21st Century Homekeeper Radio Program!

          • Sarah

            Thank you very much! Keep spreading knowledge! Be blessed in this new year!

  3. Rose C

    Thank you Sylvia! I have enough to make this. I will let you know how it turns out. Thank you again.

  4. Rose C

    How much of the dried berries would you use if that is all you have? I really want to make this soon. I just started with a cold today and would like to have some on hand as it makes it way through the house. Thank you for such great information.

    • Sylvia

      In the recipe above, use 1/2 cup dried berries instead of 1 cup fresh or frozen berries.

    • Sylvia

      In the recipe above, use 1/2 cup dried berries in place of 1 cup fresh or frozen berries.

  5. DelindaLea

    Our family has been looking for an natural alternative to help combat all the “bugs” going around this time of year. I’m so excited to have found your recipe. Though I’m a little late for harvesting our own fresh berries, I have ordered some dried for now. But next year, I’ll be scouring our property for elderberries. Thank you so much.

    • Sylvia

      You’re welcome Delinda, I hope the dried works out for you, I had thought of buying some too just to have extra.

  6. yvonne

    Elderberry bushes grow all over the place here too Sylvia, mostly in our hedgerows. I think I will try and do this recipe. I’ll let you know how I get on. I had an aunt who made home-made elderberry wine but this is the first time I’ve heard of elderberry syrup. Thankyou! 🙂

    • Sylvia

      Yvonne, I hope you’ll try it and let me know how it goes!