How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

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Tutorial Tuesdays // Tasty YummiesHow-to Make Elderberry Syrup

We aren’t out of the woods just yet, cold and flu season is very much still upon us! Rather than going into hiding, I suggest you arm yourself. Your first line of defense being a nutrient-dense, properly prepared whole foods diet, eliminating sugar and processed foods and of course, minimizing stress and maximizing your rest and relaxation time. That said, extra boosts to your immune system, also never hurt. Elderberry Syrup is an incredible, all-natural remedy that is high in immune-boosting compounds, research (and my own personal experiences) show that it is an effective therapy for shortening the duration of colds and flus.

I swear by this stuff, you guys! It works. I always have it on hand for the onset of symptoms, but I also take it as an immune boosting player as part of my maintenance plan during the cold and flu season and/or during high stress periods where my immune system may be more compromised. While I have loved elderberry for a long time, after attending an herbal medicine workshop here in Long Beach a few weeks ago, where we learned all about elder, I was inspired to share with you just how easy it is to make. I really enjoyed spending time learning all about elderberries, their healing properties, meditating with the plant, learning it’s history and sampling various preparations. Elderberry syrup is one of my favorite ways to receive the healing powers of elder, because of course, the sweetness from the honey is delicious and it really brings out the sweetness of the berries, but honey in it’s own right is also very healing and soothing.

Store-bought elderberry syrups can be quite expensive and often times they contain high-fructose corn syrup, some contain food dyes, preservatives, and so on. Making your own syrup means that you not only save some money, but you also can control every ingredient used and once you make this yourself at home, you will wonder why you have ever bought it.

Elderberries – What Are They?

Elderberries (family Caprifoliaceae) are large deciduous shrubs or small trees native mostly to the northern hemisphere, although they have become naturalized throughout much of the temperate and subtropical regions where humans live. Elderberries or Sambucus Nigra L., have long been used for centuries by indigenous cultures to treat wounds, respiratory illness, viruses and more. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. The berries of the plant are often used for preserves, syrups and tinctures, while the bark and flowers are also useful for treating allergies, creating salves, toning the skin and more. The leaves, stems are toxic.

Besides lots of flavonoids and free radical-scouring antioxidants, elderberries contain 87 percent of the daily value in vitamin C, and high amounts of vitamin A, potassium, iron, vitamin B6, fiber, and betacarotene. {source}

Elderberries add a bright, tart, and delightful flavor to various foods, making it a great choice for sauces, syrups, dressings and they can also be used to make wine. I suggest buying high-quality organic dried elderberries, this is a great brand, I also recommend these and finally, this brand. You can also use dried elderberries to make a quick tea. 1 tablespoon of dried berries, to every 8 ounces of filtered water. Bring to a boil, them simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the berries and enjoy.

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

Treatment and Prevention of Colds and Flu:

In a human clinical trial, a significant improvement of influenza symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the elderberry-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days. (Zakay-Rones, 1995)

The beautiful, deep rich purple elderberries are rich in antioxidant flavanoids believed to stimulate the immune system, reduce swelling and fight inflammation. The benefits seem to be greatest when started within 24 to 48 hours after the symptoms begin. One study found that elderberry could cut the duration of flu symptoms by more than 50%. {source}

The anthocyanins present in elderberries are similar to those found in other deeply hued foods like blueberries, acai berries, raspberries, red cabbage, grapes, black rice and others.  These antioxidants may neutralize free radical buildup, also known as oxidative stress. Free radicals are linked to the development of a number of degenerative diseases and conditions. Free radicals are by-products of normal bodily functions and are inevitable in daily life. However, it is the delicate balance of antioxidants and free radicals that determine our state of health. {source} One laboratory study demonstrated that the anthocyanins taken from elderberries helped protect blood vessels from free radical damage, suggesting it could also be beneficial against cardiovascular disease.

Experts think that elderberry reduces the path of flu simply by suppressing an enzyme known as neuraminidase, a proteins that enables flu to spread. Some studies also show that elderberry may have distinct ability to bind with viruses, halting their ability to mutate, change or multiply, thereby shortening the duration of illness or halting the virus before it’s effects are felt by the body.

The antiviral components of elderberry fruit extract were tested and found to effectively inhibit Human Influenza A (H1N1 virus) in vitro, possibly by blocking the ability of the virus to infect host cells. The extract was so effective, that researchers compared it with the prescription medications Amantadine and Oseltamivir (Tamiflu). {source}

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

How-to Take Elderberry:

Immune Support/Maintenance:

Take 1-2 teaspoons daily during cold and flu season (though I would suggest taking an occasional break for a day or two). Increasing the dosage, as needed, if you start to feel rundown.

Onset of Cold or Flu Symptoms:

My naturopathic doctor suggests 1 teaspoon, every couple of hours or about 5 times daily, at the onset of flu or cold symptoms, to shorten the duration of the illness.

Other Uses:

This syrup is also wonderful drizzled over homemade pancakes or waffles, (if you aren’t gluten-free, you must try these Whey Waffles with Elderberry Blueberry Yogurt Whip from my friend Lily of Kale and Caramel). Elderberry syrup is also great stirred into homemade yogurt or ice cream. You can also add it to other sauces or salad dressings. Might I also suggest a cocktail made with a little homemade elderberry syrup, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), your favorite vodka or gin and maybe a splash of bubbly? Just sayin’.


How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

In a medium-sized sauce pan, add 2 1/2 cups water and 1 cup dried organic elderberries. Place over a medium high heat and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to a slow simmer and allow the mixture to simmer for 30-40 minutes

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

Strain the mixture, measure the remaining liquid and return the decoction (tea) to the pan.

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

Allow the decoction to cool to 105ºF or lower (this is to preserve the healing benefits of the raw honey) and add an equal amount of raw honey to the amount of tea. Stir to dissolve the honey in the warm liquid.

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

Once dissolved, cool the mixture and add to your sterile, sealable glass jar or bottle(s). Add your pretty label (print below). Store in the refrigerator.

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

How-to Make Elderberry Syrup

Print Pin Rate
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 -16 ounces


  • 2 ½ cups filtered water
  • 1 cup dried organic elderberries
  • ½ to 2 cups raw honey*

Other optional add-ins:

  • fresh ginger
  • cinnamon stick

(both can be added at the time of the elderberries)


    • In a medium-sized sauce pan, add 2 1/2 cups filtered water and 1 cup dried elderberries. Place over a medium high heat and bring to a boil.
    • Once boiling, reduce the heat to a slow simmer and allow the mixture to simmer for 30-40 minutes.
    • Remove from the heat and strain the mixture, pressing the liquid from the berries. Measure the remaining liquid and return the decoction (tea) to the pan. Allow the mixture to cool to 105ºF or lower (this is to preserve the healing benefits of the raw honey) and add an equal amount of raw honey to the amount of tea. Stir to dissolve the honey in the warm liquid.
    • Once dissolved, cool the mixture and add to your sterile, sealable glass jar or bottle(s). Add your pretty label (print below). Store in the refrigerator. It will keep for several months.


    Add as much or as little honey as you want. You can also leave it out entirely. The syrup won't be as thick or as sweet, obviously but it's still tasty and just as effective.

    Elderberry Syrup Label

    Bonus – Printable Labels:

    Download a customizable version of these labels to print at home to give your jar or bottle of homemade Elderberry Syrup an extra-special, personal touch! Print the PDF, simply write your name in under “by:” and fill in the servings. That’s it. DOWNLOAD HERE.

    Print these 2.5-inch diameter labels on any Avery brand 22808 template. I used these brown kraft paper labels.


    How-to Make an Elderberry Oxymel (sipping vinegar)

    You can also make an oxymel – a sipping vinegar, made with raw organic apple cider vinegar. Traditionally this method is used for herbs that don’t taste so great on their own, though elderberries are quite tasty. Oxymel is a great carrier for botanicals to address fungal issues and respiratory conditions (e.g., as a cough syrup), and believe it or not, they can even make delicious salad dressings and sauces.

    To Make: Add 1 part honey, 1 part ACV to 2 parts of the decoction (tea). So for 2 cups of elderberry tea (made the same way as stated above) add 1 cup honey and 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar.


    While elderberries are said to be safe for children, due to the honey this syrup should not be given to infants under the age of 2, and as always, it’s best to first discuss with your pediatrician.

    The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. Elderberry could interact with chemotherapy for cancer, immunosuppressant drugs, diuretics, and laxatives. For these reasons, you should consume herbs only under the supervision of a health care provider.

    Do not use unripe or uncooked elderberries, the raw berries contain a cyanide-like chemical, which can cause nausea and vomiting, and at higher doses, more serious effects.

    Elderberry may cause a hypersensitive reaction in individuals with recognized allergy to plants within the Caprifoliaceae family (honeysuckle family).

    Some doctors recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take elderberry.

    If you have diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, talk to your doctor before taking elderberry.

    Elderberry appears to have few side effects when used properly for short periods of time (up to 5 days), but please note that elderberries may have laxative effects in large amounts. When taking several doses (5x) daily for illness such as cold or flu, often after a few days you may experience diarrhea. If it happens for me, it is usually very temporary and I always welcome this small, but slightly inconvenient side-effect as my flu is kicked to the curb quicker than everyone else 😉

    More Info on Elderberries:

    This post is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
    This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



    Did you make this recipe - or any others from the TY archives?

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    2 Responses

    1. I want it all!! All the elderberry tea and syrup and oxymel and everything else. Yum!! Hooray for National Elderberry Day!

    2. Kaci McLoughlin says:

      How long does it last for in the refrigerator?

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