The Fall and Winter seasons are notorious for a spike in illnesses, specifically those of the viral variety. Viral colds and the flu seem to be inevitable this time of year so it is a good idea to boost your immune system in preparation. Homemade elderberry syrup and fire cider are my 100% must-have natural remedies to keep on hand! Today we are going to take a deep dive into my elderberry syrup recipe.
Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
First, let’s talk about the benefits of homemade elderberry syrup.
Elderberries, Sambucus nigra, have some pretty amazing health benefits ranging from immune support during cold & flu season to relieving constipation!
Studies show that elderberries inhibit viral replication inside cells so it is effective at reducing the severity of colds and flu symptoms.
Elderberries contain high levels of vitamins A, B, and C. One cup of elderberries is said to contain 40% of your daily recommended Vitamin C! This is incredible for the immune system!
Elderberries are packed with digestive fiber so they can help to ease digestive upset.
Elderberries contain a significant number of flavonoids, most notably Quercetin, Rutin, and anthocyanins. These antioxidants help to boost the immune system and lessen cold & flu symptoms.
Anthocyanin is the compound that gives elderberries their color. It is also known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Potential Side-Effects of Elderberries
Elderberries do contain cyanogenic glycosides that can release cyanide, similar to apple seeds and the pit of stone fruits. This isn’t an issue in this homemade elderberry syrup recipe because the elderberries are dried and they go through a high heat processing that renders the cyanide compounds harmless. If you use fresh elderberries without heating them, you may experience stomach upset.
Here are some articles and studies that go more into detail about the health benefits of elderberry syrup:
- Elderberry for Your Herb Garden and Apothecary | Joybilee Farm
- Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) juice as a novel functional product rich in health-promoting compounds | Royal Society of Chemistry
- Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Is your family prepared for cold & flu season? Make this immune-boosting antiviral elderberry syrup recipe to help ward off illnesses and reduce symptoms of the cold & flu.
- 3/4 cup dried elderberries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 TBSP whole cloves
- 1 TBSP fresh ginger
- 3 cups of filtered water
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
You can use dried elderberries, as this recipe calls for, or you can use fresh elderberries.
If you use fresh elderberries, you will need to extract the elderberry juice with a steam juicer OR by simmering the berries in water. These heat processes will render the cyanide compounds naturally found inside the plant harmless. Do not use red unripe berries as they contain higher amounts of cyanide. Read more about using fresh raw elderberries here.
This homemade elderberry syrup recipe calls for whole cinnamon sticks, but it can also be made with ground cinnamon. Substitute ½ tsp ground cinnamon for the whole cinnamon stick.
I like to use whole cloves in my elderberry syrup, but you can also substitute 1 tsp ground cloves for 1 TBSP of whole cloves.
Fresh ginger root is always preferred, but ground ginger can be used as well. 1 tsp ground ginger can be substituted for 1 TBSP fresh ginger.
The local raw honey in this recipe is added at the end (after the heating process) to help retain the nutritional value, but it can also be mixed in with the other ingredients to simmer. The main purpose of honey in elderberry syrup is to make it palatable, but retaining nutritional value is something that I strive for as well.
You can substitute processed honey if you plan to heat it. Maple syrup can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio as well. It is also a good idea to use maple syrup if being given to children under age one.
Steps to Make Elderberry Syrup
STEP 1: Combine and Heat
Add all of the ingredients (except the honey) to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. The liquid should reduce by half and coat the back of a spoon.
STEP 2: Strain
Remove the hot syrup from the heat and strain berries and other solids out with a fine mesh strainer. Use a fork, spoon, or potato masher to mash every bit of syrup possible out of the berries. Keep the spent berries to the side to make elderberry tea.
STEP 3: Add Remainder of Ingredients
Add 1 cup of raw honey and 1/4 cup ACV to the warm elderberry syrup.
STEP 4: Cool & Store
Allow the elderberry syrup to cool to room temperature and pour it into airtight containers (like mason jars) to store.
How to Store Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry Syrup can be stored for 8-10 months in an airtight container in the fridge. I keep mine in a syrup jar or a mason jar. You can also use this syrup to make elderberry gummies!
How to Use Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Using homemade elderberry syrup is simple! You can use this syrup daily as a way to prevent illnesses or you can take it to reduce symptoms of an illness that you already have.
- 1 TBSP/day as an illness preventative
- 2 TBSP every 4 hours when you feel a sickness coming on
Children over 1:
- 1-2 tsp/day as an illness preventative
- 1-2 tsp every 4 hours when they feel a sickness coming on
What to Do with Leftover Used Elderberries?
Don’t throw away the spent elderberries after your syrup is finished! Use the spent berries to make elderberry tea! This tea won’t be as medicinally rich as the syrup because most of the nutrients were cooked into the syrup, but it still makes for a healthy & tasty drink.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. I am not a doctor. Do not use this syrup if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. This recipe is based on personal experience and research.
- Add all of the ingredients (except the honey) to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. The liquid should reduce by half and coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove the hot syrup from the heat and strain berries and other solids out with a fine mesh strainer. Use a fork, spoon, or potato masher to mash every bit of syrup possible out of the berries. Keep the spent berries to the side to make elderberry tea.
- Add 1 cup of raw honey and 1/4 cup ACV to the warm elderberry syrup.
- Allow the elderberry syrup to cool to room temperature and pour it into airtight containers (like mason jars) to store.