Our recipe for elderberry syrup calls for simmering the berries and liquid for a brief time followed by a gentle steep off the heat, all in a covered pan. (5) This gentle infusion method creates a deep purple syrup that smells and tastes of fresh elderberries. Here’s the recipe:
Quantity: Makes 3-4 cups syrup.
2 cups dried elderberries (6 oz, 170 g) OR 4 cups fresh or frozen berries (24 oz, 680 g)
4 cups water (32 oz, 908 g)
1 1/2 cups honey (18 oz, 510 g) OR 2 cups sugar (14 oz, 400 g) Adjust sweetener to taste if necessary (3)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid powder (4)
Optional: Add one or more of these spices —
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks OR 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 whole cloves OR 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 to 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated (1-2 Tablespoon) OR 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sanitize one 32-ounce (1 quart) canning jar or 2 or 3 smaller jars with a total of 32 ounces of capacity by washing the jars in the dishwasher on a normal or sanitizing cleaning cycle. An alternative method to sanitize the jars is to submerge them for about 1 minute in a pot of water at a full rolling boil. Leave the jars in the dishwasher or hot water until you are ready to fill them.
In a 3 quart stainless steel or enameled pot, bring the berries, water, and optional spices to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let the mixture continue to steep with the cover on for another hour.
Line a sieve with cheesecloth, pour the syrup and berries into the sieve. Squeeze the cloth and berries to extract as much of the juice as possible. Discard the berries.
Stir in the sugar or honey and the lemon juice or citric acid.
Pour the syrup into sanitized jars, seal securely, and refrigerate or freeze. The syrup, if made as written and kept refrigerated in unopened, sanitized jars, will likely keep for up to 4 weeks, possibly longer. After a jar is opened, keep refrigerated and use the syrup within 1 or 2 weeks. I do not recommend canning this syrup — the recipe has not been tested for safety.
There is no specific dosage for elderberry syrup as a health tonic. I suggest 1-2 teaspoons per day for healthy adults and children. This dosage can be doubled or tripled when a person is sick with a cold or the flu.
This syrup can also be enjoyed on pancakes, oatmeal, or ice cream or add it to hot or cold tea or lemonade.
(1) Rosemary Gladstar. Medicinal Herbs: A beginner’s guide. Storey Publishing. 2012.
(2) Tieraona Low Dog. How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Immune Health. Downloaded 13 Feb 2020 from https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/elderberry-syrup-recipe
(3) You can use less or no sweetener or use a non-sugar sweetener such as Splenda. A reduced- or no-sugar syrup is more perishable than a syrup that is sweetened and acidified per this recipe. A low/no sugar syrup should be consumed within 1 week. Freeze for longer storage.
(4) Lemon juice or citric acid powder adds flavor and, if used in the recommended amounts or more, will help increase the shelf life. Find citric acid in the canning section at your local grocery or hardware store. Do not use ascorbic acid (sometimes sold as “Fruit Fresh”) in place of citric acid or lemon juice.
(5) The ratio in this recipe of 1 part dried berries to 2 parts water by volume is recommended by herbalists Rosemary Gladstar (1) and Tieraona Low Dog (2). Many recipes use only 1 part berries in 4 parts water, but they typically also call for cooking the syrup long enough to reduce the syrup volume by half. This long cook time affects the taste and aroma.