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Elderberry syrup is packed with powerful benefits and is one of the best herbal remedies to use in winter. It is a powerful immune system booster and reduces the incidence of colds and coughs, which are so prevalent during the cold winter months.
You can either make your own elderberry syrup or you can buy the readymade versions. You can also get the health benefits of elderberries through elderberry gummies or elderberry supplements.
Alright, here’s how to make your own elderberry syrup.
How to make elderberry syrup: recipe + instructions
Basic elderberry syrup recipe
Every recipe you find online will probably be a little different. All will contain fresh or dried elderberries and a liquid, but the spices and other ingredients may vary. That’s okay because the spices will only alter the taste, they won’t affect the properties or benefits of your homemade elderberry syrup.
The basic elderberry syrup recipe calls for:
- 2 cups dried elderberries or 3 cups fresh elderberries
- 1 organic cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 5 organic whole cloves or ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon organic dried ginger root
- 1 cup raw honey
- 4 cups water
Raw honey is an important ingredient in a homemade elderberry recipe. Raw honey is packed with vital antioxidant properties. It also has a legendary shelf life and acts as a natural preservative for your homemade concoction.
Shop The Ingredients
Step-by-step how to make elderberry syrup with fresh or dried berries
Prep Time – 5 minutes
Cook Time – 1 hour
Makes 2 ½ cups
1. Put elderberries, herbs, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat, cover the saucepan, and let the herbs simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced to about half.
3. Remove from heat and keep covered to let the ingredients steep while the concoction cools down.
4. When cool, open the saucepan and mash berries carefully using a flat wooden spoon.
5. Strain mashed berries and herbs into a glass bowl or wide-mouthed jar using a funnel lined with cheesecloth. This will let the liquid pass through while holding back the elderberry pulp and herbs.
6. Squeeze the muslin cloth to extract all the liquid so you aren’t wasting any of this beneficial concoction.
7. When the liquid cools to room temperature, add the honey and stir so it is well incorporated into the liquid. Raw honey adds sweetness to the syrup and also boosts its beneficial properties. Do not add raw honey to the hot liquid as high heat destroys the therapeutic properties of honey.
8. Transfer the contents into a sterilized glass bottle or mason jar.
9. Store in the fridge. It will last in the fridge for about two months.
10. That’s it! Your homemade immune-booster is ready for use!
How to make elderberry syrup in an instant pot
I decided to add these instructions after many readers asked if it was possible to make elderberry syrup in an instant pot.
To answer the question, yes, you can make elderberry syrup in an instant pot. It’s super easy too!
Use the same elderberry recipe above. Add all ingredients (elderberries, water, and herbs) in the instant pot, seat lid and set manually on high pressure for 9 minutes.
When the pressure has dissipated, open the instant pot and strain the liquid into a glass bowl or wide-mouthed jar using a muslin-lined funnel. Squeeze the muslin cloth to extract every drop of liquid.
When it cools down to room temperature, stir in the honey. Transfer to glass mason jars or glass bottles and store in the refrigerator.
Buy An Elderberry Syrup Kit
Want to make your own elderberry syrup but don’t want to look for the ingredients individually?
An elderberry syrup kit can help. Elderberry syrup kits come with everything you need to make this immune-boosting concoction including dried elderberries and basic spices along with detailed instructions.
These are the top-rated elderberry syrup kits on Amazon.
3 Important tips for making elderberry syrup at home
Choose the right type of saucepan – Use only pans made of non-reactive materials such as ceramic or glass Avoid using pans with synthetic nonstick coatings that may release toxic substances into the concoction.
Use the right water-to-herb ratio – The water-to-herb ratio can vary depending on whether you use fresh or dry elderberries and what type of decoction you want to make. You’ll need less water when making elderberry syrup from fresh berries, and more when using dried berries. A 4:1 ratio of water to berries by weight will make a strong decoction packed with therapeutic properties.
Double the amount of honey to make your homemade elderberry syrup shelf-stable – When you’ve taken the time and trouble to make your own elderberry syrup, you want to take steps to extend its shelf life too. The best way to make elderberry syrup shelf-stable is by adding double the amount of honey to the recipe.
Ideas for Customizing The Basic Recipe
There are two reasons why you may want to customize this easy elderberry syrup recipe. One is to change the taste. The other is to add some other health benefits.
It’s easy to customize the recipe by replacing the herbs and spices mentioned for others that you prefer.
For example, you can add a slice of vanilla bean or 2 cardamom pods into the mix to lift the aroma and flavor of the finished product.
Feel free to experiment with the herbs and spices in the recipe. The three things you cannot change are elderberries, honey, and water as these form the basis for making elderberry syrup.
Honey adds much-needed sweetness and also helps thicken the syrup a bit. It also adds to the therapeutic properties and helps to extend the shelf life of your homemade syrup. Start by adding a small amount and increase to make a thicker elderberry syrup or to add more sweetness.
This elderberry syrup recipe from Wellness Mama is hugely popular. You may find some customization ideas here too.
Tips for Buying Elderberry Syrup
Don’t have the time or inclination to make your own homemade elderberry syrup? That’s ok! You can find a wide variety of premade elderberry syrup, elderberry gummies, and elderberry tea from various brands.
All brands are not made the same, however. Here are some tips for buying the best elderberry syrup.
Before buying elderberry syrup, it’s really important that you pay attention to the labels on the bottles. Do your own research to decode the label. Does that elderberry syrup use organic elderberries? What are the herbs and spices used?
In addition to the elderberries, premade versions include various combinations of spices such as cinnamon or clove, honey, ginger, and maybe some other berries as well.
Is homemade elderberry syrup better than the readymade varieties?
Not necessarily. Both are equally good but each has its own set of pros and cons.
Premade elderberry syrups from reputed brands are of the highest quality. The advantage of using premade varieties is that they are super convenient. You don’t have to spend any time in the preparation. The downside is that they can work out to be a little more expensive than making your own.
You’ll save a lot of money when you learn how to make elderberry syrup at home. It doesn’t take much time either so that’s a win-win. As an added bonus, you can customize your homemade version to suit your taste buds or your unique health needs.
Elderberry Syrup Benefits
Elderberries are high in oxidants and vitamins A, B, and C. They also have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. These properties give elderberry syrup many benefits.
Elderberry syrup is an easier and tastier way to get the concentrated immune-supporting benefits of elderberries. The addition of synergistic herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger plus raw honey gives the homemade syrup an extra immune boost.
Here’s the full list of elderberry syrup benefits:
• Boosts the immune system
• Helps fight viral infections
• Reduces symptoms and duration of colds and flu
• Helps ease sinus infections
• Alleviates symptoms of allergies
• Offers natural diuretic benefits
• Keeps skin looking healthy and young
Note: Most studies on the benefits of elderberry syrup have been performed on commercial products. There’s not much information on the efficacy of homemade syrup.
How To Use Elderberry Syrup
As the cool weather rolls around, taking a tablespoon of immune-boosting elderberry every morning will keep the cold and flu at bay. If you already have a cold or the flu, taking a tablespoon 2 to 3 times a day will help you get better faster. (This dosage is for adults)
Precaution: Never take any herbal or other medication before first speaking to your doctor. Be especially careful with giving children any medication without the advice of their pediatrician.
This sweet-n-spicy homemade elderberry syrup tastes great when drizzled over pancakes, ice cream, and panna cotta or when stirred in a nice warm beverage. Do not add it to very hot drinks as the heat will destroy the therapeutic properties of raw honey.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe FAQs
Is it better to use fresh or dried elderberries when making elderberry syrup at home?
You can use either fresh or dried elderberries for your homemade syrup. You’ll need a larger quantity when using fresh berries.
Both are equally beneficial but you may not find fresh berries in stores year-round. When buying dried elderberries it’s best to use the organic variety and always buy from a reputed brand. This is the one I use and highly recommend.
How long does elderberry syrup last in the fridge?
Generally, it should last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
If you make a large quantity, freeze a portion of it to extend its shelf-life. The best way to freeze homemade elderberry syrup is by pouring it into an ice-cube tray. Store the ice cubes in a Ziploc bag in the freezer and use as needed.
What is the right elderberry syrup dosage?
The recommended dosage is 1 tablespoon a day for adults and 1 teaspoon for children.
Do not give it to babies under 2 years of age as it contains honey, which can be toxic.
Make sure to speak to your doctor before taking homemade elderberry syrup yourself or giving it to your kids.
If you’re using pre-made elderberry syrup, read the label and follow the instructions carefully. Each brand has its own dosage recommendations depending on the strength of the syrup.
Can I make elderberry syrup without honey?
Yes, you can. However, in addition to sweetening the decoction, honey also makes the elderberry syrup shelf stable. If you don’t add honey, you’ll have to consume it more quickly. Alternatively, keep only small portions in the fridge and freeze the rest of it to extend its shelf life.
To sweeten the syrup without honey, use maple syrup or molasses.
To extend the shelf life without honey, add a little vodka or brandy to the cooled liquid. This cannot be given to kids though.
Can I reuse the mashed elderberries after making syrup?
It’s not advisable to reuse the mashed elderberries after making syrup. For one thing, they would be devoid of any nutrients. The nutrients are removed during the boiling and mashing process. Also, consuming large quantities can have unnecessary side effects.
Have you tried making your own elderberry syrup or do you use a readymade variety? Let us know which one you’ve tried and your thoughts on either in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.