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)
5 Days to DIY Natural LivingBeing healthy isn’t just what goes IN your body, it’s what goes ON your body too. Download my free guide 5 Days to DIY Natural Living to learn how to save money while getting rid of harmful toxins throughout your home.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Learn How to Make Elderberry Syrup with this simple recipe. Has immune-boosting benefits/effects, and it works! Easy method using dried elderberries.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Home Remedies
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
- 2/3 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)
- Fine mesh strainer
- Glass bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Quart jar with a lid for storage
- 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 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: Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Hi! Thanks for the recipe. About how much does this recipe yield?
Does it matter what kind of water- distilled, spring, tap?
Hi Krystle! You’ll get about 12-14 ounces in the end. You want to use the best water you can, but I’ve used tap without any issues. 🙂
Thank you! I’ve got 6 cups of dried elderberries ( no stems) . Do you have a recipe ratio for that amount by chance? By my math ,isn’t that your recepie x 8? Thanks!
My math comes out the same! There is a catch though – elderberry syrup can go bad. Unless you have a lot of kids who aren’t feeling the best, I’d make just one batch and keep the rest in the pantry. If they’re already dry, they won’t go bad!
Hi! I’ve been making elderberry syrup for quite some time now – we love it! How long would you say this lasts outside of the fridge? This mistake doesn’t typically happen but in the off chance it does 🙂 Thanks!
Hi Katie! I think you’d be fine for a day or two, but always use the sniff test for sure!
Thanks for the recipe! Making mine right now.. I didn’t have a potato masher so I used a never before used wooden crab mallet to mash berries in pot. I totally pulverized most I think so I’m worries after I just went back that I’ve made the batch toxic by releasing the evilness inside the seeds…?!? Going to strain in mesh strainer but now super worried since I will share with many others.
Hi Tammy! Take a look at what’s left in the strainer when you’re done. The seeds are small and really hard, so there’s a good chance you caught them in the end. 🙂
Instead of fresh ginger, think it would be ok to add a couple drops of YL ginger vitality??
Sure! I’d totally do it. 🙂
I purchased freeze dried elderberries from Nuts. Com
They are puffy and crunchy, can they be used? I’m used to the amazon organic dried berries that are hard and can’t be crushed between your fingers. If so, how do they compare as far as how much to use per dose?
I’m really not sure Laurie, but a quick search says you can rehydrate freeze dried fruits by soaking in water. I’d try just a tsp or so and see if that works. If so, proceed with the recipe!
I checked out the Amazon link for the Frontier elderberries and they are price gouging…nearly $50 for a pound!! Several people also complained about big stems, underripe berries and even a snail in the bag they received. I would look around for another source!
Yikes! These are half the size, but half the price: https://amzn.to/2PKWEzF. If it helps, I bought the one bag last year and have made several bathes of syrup AND added some to my kombucha and I still have some left!
How many ounces exactly does this make?
I add Apple cider vinegar to the elderberry juice (which I get from steaming) for preservation plus the benefits of the ACV itself…the honey makes it sweet enough that you don’t taste the vinegar!
I would like to do this in gummie form to make it easier to take when on the run…. would it still work with the vinegar?
Hi Kelly! As a general rule, highly acidic liquids don’t hold up well to gummies, BUT you can mix with other non-acidic liquids and it does better. If your mixture is more elderberry than ACV, I’d say give it a shot!
I’d love to make this but never seen elderberries before. Will try to ask for them in our local store.
I’ve never seen them locally either Shine, but you can use the links in the post to buy them online!
So, I was considering making this syrup, but straining the seeds sounded like a major pain. I scoured the internet, & apparently, once cooked, the seeds are safe to eat.
I will be giving it a go now!
Thanks for the recipe, Tiffany
I suppose if you add brandy it would need to be added after cooking? otherwise, what good would it be if it was boiled down? also, by adding brandy, the mix would be almost 1/2 brandy so would you take twice as much to still get the same amount of elderberries in the mix?
Yes, you add the brandy after straining out the berries. I also add the raw honey after the liquid has cooled a little. Heat and honey don’t go together very well. Some say it becomes toxic, I don’t know about that but heat can certainly destroy some of the beneficial qualities of raw honey.
Can juice be used instead of berris
Oops! I accidentally added the honey before boiling/cooking (that’s what I get for skimming the directions). Should I add more in after? If so, how much?
Hi Terri! Just taste before adding more honey. The point of adding it later is yes, to be more accurate with the level of sweetening, but also to retain the nutrients and enzymes of raw honey, if that’s what you used. No worries! The batch isn’t ruined – just a lesson learned for next time. 🙂
Works great to make in an instant pot, have made it that way several times. Use the same amounts of berries and water. I put a couple if lemon slices, 1-2 cinnamon sticks. Cook for 9-15 min ( I have done both and 9 worked fine). Quick release pressure. Cool, strain elderberries( I put them in cheesecloth, then you can remove that easily). Once cool add raw honey and I add 1-2 drops of Young Living Vitality (clove, ginger, cinnamon bark) essential oils instead of ground spices. You could also add peppermint, eucalyptus, thyme or myrrh based on commercial syrups I have tried.
Hello! I needed to find my elderberry syrup recipe but my kitchen is in mid reno and I’ve been exposed to the flu (ugh) so- great post btw! Wondering – have you made this in the instant pot yet? If so- your thoughts? Thanks, Teresa
Hope you stay healthy Teresa! I haven’t tried this in the IP, but my guess would be the “saute” function would be too hot (it boils water) and the “warm” function wouldn’t be hot enough… 🙁
I used Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar to get rid of a urinary tract infection during pregnancy. I was secptical at first, but it really worked. I really don’t like to use antibiotics so I was grateful to be able to avoid them. 🙂
Thanks for the tip Donna!
Tamara Mac Ginty
To extend the life of your Elderberry tonic, add brandy to the mix. I usually add about a cup of brandy but a little less should work to as a preservative. My friends love getting a bottle of this at Christmas time as not only is it an immune booster, it’s delicious. I always use fresh Elderberries as they taste much better than the dried but I’m lucky to be surrounded by Elderberry trees.
Thanks for the suggestion Tamara!
Tamara Mac Ginty
I should have added that by adding the brandy, which is another preservative like the honey, you don’t have to refrigerate your Elderberry tonic. So in addition to it tasting great, it preserves longer and better .
What ratio is used for fresh berries versus dried
Tamara Mac Ginty
When I use fresh berries or frozen berries, I use about 2 cups. If using dried berries I use about 1.25 cups. The fresh/frozen berries taste much better than the dried in my opinion but when I run out of the fresh, I do use dried as I can order them online. I try to harvest a lot and freeze as much as possible. When I feel myself coming down with something, super tired and that feeling that something is brewing, I simmer about 2 cups of the berries with fresh ginger, some cloves and cinnamon sticks in about 4 or 5 cups of filtered water. After about 20 minutes turn off the heat and allow to cool a little bit and then strain out the berries and spices squeezing out as much juice from the berries as possible. When the remaining juice has cooled enough to drink, add some raw honey and then drink as much of this beverage as you can over the course of the evening or within 24 hours. This has stopped many a flu or cold dead in its tracks. I get calls from my neighbours asking for my ‘Elderberry’ cure as it has helped many either speed up healing or stop getting sick all together. I use the Elderberry tonic more of a daily immune preventative rather than a cure when I am sick. I might add, I rarely get sick any longer.
Would the dosage remain the same with the added brandy?
I’m sorry; one more question: do you give sick children the same dosage: 1 Tab/ 3 times a day?
I made some today and everyone liked it! It is pretty watery still, though; it isn’t thick like cough syrups, for instance. Is that how it is supposed to be?
Hi Maria! For well kids I give 1/2-1 tsp 1x/day. For sick kids, I double the dosage and to 3x/day. This won’t be super thick like a cough syrup. If you think about it, it’s mostly water and honey… so the viscosity should be similar. If I had to compare it, I’d say it’s about as thick as an oil/vinegar marinade. 🙂
I make a lot of my own soaps, lotions and elderberry syrup.
I have been afraid to give it to my grandbabies ages 3-7. I read a lot of home remedies can be harmful, so I don’t give it to them. What’s your thoughts please?
Also Manuka honey is a Great added ingredient to elderberry syrup
I’ve read only good things about giving elderberry syrup to kids as young as 1. Under 12 months, and it’s the raw honey that becomes a concern. 🙂
I make elderberry gummies for my grand babies ages 1 1/2 and 3. It really helps to build their immune system and supports quick recovery when the do catch a virus. I am able to grow and harvest my own berries. Someone gifted me a steamer/juicer which is another way to extract the juice. The leftover berries make a great “tea” or add for the second ferment with kombucha.
I would not give it to them if it contained honey, sugar maybe
Have you ever used dried ginger? Are there health benefits to using fresh?
I used dried ginger on my third batch Maria, and yes it still has benefits, but I much preferred the taste of fresh ginger. Use what you have though!
How long will the syrup last if stored in the frig?
Also, I use echinacea capsules when I first feel any cold/flu symptoms coming on. Works like a charm. I take 2 caps 3x’s a day along with Vitamin C tablets – 2000 mg 3x’s a day until I feel better (usually within one day). Echinacea should not be taken on a regular basis as it lessens the effectiveness for when you really need to take it.
As for taking a lot of Vitamin C, Linus Pauling (won the nobel prize in chemistry) wrote a book on Vitamin C stating that he took up to 10,000 mg per day.
Hi Carolyn! This will last several months in the fridge. 🙂
I just made this recipe and am very excited to start adding it to smoothies. When I was mashing it, I realized that a sizeable portion of the berries didn’t melt but were whole. Hopefully that is okay. Of course I used fresh berries from a reputed forager, about 1 lb and assumed that would be about the same amount of dry ones. It tastes delicious even though I wouldn’t have cared if it tasted like hay, as long as it’ll help me fight cold naturally.
Don’t confuse vitamin c with ascorbic acid 🙃
Clarification please, Once you bring the elderberries just to a boil do you reduce the heat? And cook covered until reduced to?
Yes! Bring just to a boil, cover and reduce to about half. I’ll update the post – thank you Patti!
Thank you for this post. Ive been wanting to make this syrup for a couple of years now and this is just the nudge i need. I’m curious though, how does the syrup reduce if the pot is covered? Isn’t evaporation needed to reduce the syrup?
Oh my Joelle, you’re right! I read recently that cooking with the lid saves energy (food gets hotter, stays hotter and therefore cooks faster reducing energy) and I was thinking along those lines when I was typing this up… YIKES! I didn’t cover this when I made it – I just set the timer. I’ll go fix that, LOL!
I just added the honey with the mixture to boil will it make a difference 😬
Tamara Mac Ginty
Simmmer after reaching a boil and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.