Learn How to Make Elderberry Syrup with this easy guide. Elderberry syrup has immune-boosting benefits, and it works! Easy method using dried elderberries. If your family loves gummies, also try my recipe for homemade elderberry gummies!
Cold and flu season technically runs November to February, but if you or anyone in your family interact with ANYONE else, chances are you get sick year-round.
That’s why I keep charcoal gummies in my freezer. If someone gets the stomach virus, I want to nip it in the bud ASAP and prevent the rest of us from catching it.
It’s also why I like to make two batches of elderberry syrup as the cold and flu season begins. I admit to being skeptical at first, but let me tell you how awesome homemade elderberry syrup is (and how easy it is to make!).
Why Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup?
- I found this study which concluded that the effects of elderberry flavonoids were comparable to the flu medicine Tamiflu!
- Elderberry is found over the counter in common cold and flu brands like Zarbees, Sambucol, and Sambucus, but for the price of JUST ONE of those medicines, you can make several batches of homemade elderberry syrup.
- Considering this actually WORKED for us and it’s significantly cheaper (and super easy to make), it’s something I’m going to be keeping on hand throughout the year.
Here’s What You Need
Elderberry Syrup Supplies
- dried elderberries (also called Sambucus nigra) (these are the ones I use)
- ground cinnamon (or cinnamon sticks) (optional)
- ground clove (optional)
- fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)
- raw honey (or to taste)
- fine mesh strainer
- glass bowl
- wooden spoon
- quart jar with a lid for storage
Step by Step Instructions for Making Elder Berry Syrup
Step 1. Combine dried elderberries, water, cinnamon, clove, and ginger in a medium pot and bring just to a boil. Cook until the liquid has reduced to almost half, about 45 minutes. (Mine took exactly 45 minutes both times, but you can set a timer for 30 minutes and check if you don’t want to forget about this being on the stove!)
Step 2. Place a fine-mesh strainer (I have this set) over a big bowl (I have this set) and pour the liquid through the strainer. Mash the solids against the strainer, doing your best to get as much of the fruit through the strainer as possible. Take your time here so you’re not wasting precious elderberries!
Step 3. When you’re left with mostly seeds, use the elderberry mash for kombucha OR compost it (here’s an easy way to get started with composting). Let the syrup cool to room temperature.
Step 4. When the syrup is cool, pour into a quart jar. Add the honey and stir well. Store in the fridge!
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Dos and Don’ts
Don’t go foraging for elderberries (and especially don’t eat them raw)
There are only a few elderberry plants that are edible in general, and the leaves and stems from nearly all elderberry plants can be dangerous.
If you use fresh berries for this recipe, I recommend finding a reputable local source. Otherwise, I recommend these dried elderberries online. (This is a reputable brand and the best deal I’ve found!)
Note: Prices on Amazon change all the time. If you’re buying elderberries during cold and flu season, the price will be higher than the offseason.
Raw honey is not for infants under 12 months old
Raw honey has exceptional health benefits, including managing seasonal allergies and boosting the immune system. That’s why I’ve included it in my elderberry syrup recipe. Well, that and elderberries are quite tart and medicine won’t work unless it’s you actually take it!
If you’re making this for your little ones, you can use a different sweetener altogether OR put the syrup back on the stove after it’s strained and add the honey, simmering for about 5-10 minutes to pasteurize it.
I found local raw honey at a health store in my town. This raw honey is good too, and I’ve seen it in my local Walmart. This honey is from Brazil though, so chances are it won’t offer allergy relief (unless you live in Brazil!).
Ginger, cinnamon, and clove are optional
I included all of these in my batches because I think they add a layer of yumminess to the syrup and they have benefits too. However, the syrup will work just as well and taste just fine if you omit one or all of these.
You probably won’t find a knob of ginger small enough for what you need for this recipe, so I recommend buying about 4″ pieces and grating the whole thing. Measure what you need for this recipe, and then freeze the rest for a future batch!
Use a strainer or a nut milk bag. Don’t use a blender
Numerous sites discuss the dangers of eating the seeds of elderberries. Because a blender will pulverize the berry AND the internal seed (especially if you have a Blendtec or Vitamix), I don’t recommend using it to make elderberry syrup.
Instead, smash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon through a fine mesh strainer OR place them in a nut milk bag and squeeze like crazy. Both of these methods will ensure no seeds make it into the final syrup.
Save the elderberry mash for flavoring kombucha
Instead of throwing away the elderberry mash (the solids that are left after you’ve smashed the berries through the strainer), use them for flavoring your kombucha! You’ll get a double whammy of immune-boosting AND gut boosting benefits, and get the most out of the investment in elderberries.
To do this, place 1-2 tablespoons of elderberry mash into a tea bag. I have cotton tea bags like these and was able to put 2 tablespoons of mash into each of my 4 tea bags.
To brew, use 1 tea bag per 1 gallon of kombucha. If you don’t need all the elderberry mash right away, there are three ways to save them for later:
- Filling up the tea bags and placing them directly in the freezer. You’ll simply pull a tea bag from the freezer and put it in the water when you’re ready to make kombucha.
- Freeze the elderberry mash in 1 tablespoon portions, in an ice cube tray.
- Use a cookie scoop to portion the mash onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (This is the same method I use to freeze tomato paste.)
Need help making kombucha? Here’s my original kombucha tutorial and recipe. To use the elderberry mash, follow the directions for rosehip and hibiscus kombucha, substituting the mash for the herbs in step 1.
It may not seem like much, but using up every bit of food that comes in the kitchen is a great way to save money. I believe so much in avoiding food waste that I dedicated an entire lesson to it in Grocery Budget Bootcamp! Every little bit adds up!
Elderberry Syrup Dosage
If my family is not sick, I use a standard dosage of ½ teaspoon daily for kids, and ½ tablespoon daily for adults.
Yes! As noted above, do not forage for elderberries and especially do not eat them raw.
When prepared properly and stored in a glass container in the fridge, homemade elderberry syrup should be good for up to 3 months.
The tutorial in this post gives you step by step instructions for making elderberry syrup. It’s best to read the dos and don’ts first, and then follow the instructions in this post step by step.
As noted in this post, my family and I take it leading up to cold and flu season and throughout the season. See my post for the dosages that we take.
Other Home Remedies
Here are a few other simple tutorials I think you’ll find helpful!
- Elderberry Gummies
- Charcoal Gummies (just 2 ingredients, for the stomach flu/virus/bug)
- Magnesium Lotion (for stress, anxiety, and sleep)
- Magnesium Oil Spray (just 2 ingredients, same benefits as magnesium lotion, but a bit easier to make for first-timers)
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How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Learn how to make elderberry syrup with this easy method using dried elderberries and make several batches for the price of one bottle at the store. Elderberry syrup has immune-boosting benefits, and it works!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Home Remedies
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
- ⅔ cup dried elderberries (also called Sambucus nigra) (these are the ones I use)
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or cinnamon sticks) (optional)
- ½ tsp ground clove (optional)
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)
- ½ cup raw honey (or to taste)
- Combine dried elderberries, water, cinnamon, clove, and ginger in a medium pot and bring just to a boil. Cook until the liquid has reduced to almost half, about 45 minutes. (Mine took exactly 45 minutes both times, but you can set a timer for 30 minutes and check if you don’t want to forget about this being on the stove!)
- Place a fine-mesh strainer (I have this set) over a big bowl (I have this set) and pour the liquid through the strainer. Mash the solids against the strainer, doing your best to get as much of the fruit through the strainer as possible. Take your time here so you’re not wasting precious elderberries!
- When you’re left with mostly seeds, use the elderberry mash for kombucha OR compost it (here’s an easy way to get started with composting). Let the syrup cool to room temperature.
- When the syrup is cool, pour it into a quart jar. Add the honey and stir well. Store in the fridge!
- When prepared properly and stored in a glass container in the fridge, homemade elderberry syrup should be good for 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1 tsp
- Calories: 15
Keywords: Elderberry Syrup