Homemade Elderberry Syrup (Immune Boosting)

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Learn how to make elderberry syrup with this easy DIY herbal remedies recipe. Made with elderberries, spices and fresh ginger, this syrup has powerful medicinal benefits and is perfect for kids, adults or to make elderberry gummies.  

Natural remedy

Elderberry syrup is a natural cold and flu remedy with powerful medicinal benefits. It can be used preventatively to support the immune system and as a natural way to shorten the duration of symptoms due to the common cold or influenza.  

This simple recipe can be customized based on your needs and flavor preferences. It’s much less expensive than elderberry syrup found at the store and just as effective, making it a no-brainer!  

What are elderberries?

Elderberries are the fruit from the elder bush and are one of the oldest and most commonly used medicinal plants in the world, dating back hundreds of years to ancient Egyptians and Indigenous people. They naturally contain vitamins A, B, and C and are jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They have immunoprotective and antiviral properties, making them particularly good at helping to alleviate certain cold and flu symptoms. 

There are different varieties of the elderberry, but the most commonly used one for health benefits is the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra). This versatile berry is often used to make natural remedies such as gummies, syrup and tinctures.  

Health benefits of elderberry

Elderberry syrup is an easy way to get all the immune-supporting benefits of elderberries, while still tasting good. When taken preventatively, elderberry syrup has been shown to help ward off infection. When taking during infection, it has been shown to help prevent the spread of the virus and speed up recovery. 

  • Fights inflammation 
  • Alleviates upper respiratory infections 
  • Eases cold and flu symptoms 
  • Tames allergies 
  • Aids in fever reduction 
  • Helps combat constipation 
  • Alleviates joint and muscle pain 
  • Aids in stress reduction 
  • Minimizes fluid retention 

What is the suggested dose for elderberry syrup?

During cold and flu season our family uses this syrup as a preventative remedy by taking ½ to 2 teaspoons daily. If one of us comes down with a minor cold or flu, we take the standard amount every few hours until our symptoms disappear. 

Preventative standard dose (once daily during cold and flu season) 
  • Children (ages 1 to 5 years): ½ teaspoon; amount can be increased as the child ages 
  • Adults: ½ to 1 tablespoon 
During illness: Every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear (3-4 days)
  • Children: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon  
  • Adults: 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon  

As with any natural remedy, it’s always best to consult with your herbalist, naturopath or functional medicine doctor to determine if it’s a good option for you.  

Elderberry syrup should not be given to children under the age of 1 year due to the raw honey.  

Where can I get dried elderberries from?

We’ve found that ordering elderberries in bulk from a reputable online source is the most economical option. You may be able to find them at your local co-op or natural food store.  

Because elderberry syrup has grown in popularity, dried elderberries tend to sell out during cold and flu season. For this reason, we recommend buying your berries early in the season. One pound of berries will last quite some time, even when you’re taking it preventatively. 

Why use raw honey?

Honey is one of nature’s MVP’s. It has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and has been shown to boost your immune system. Plus, it acts as a thickening agent for syrup.  

Is there a substitute for honey that I can use in this recipe?

You can use maple syrup in place of honey, although it may not turn out quite as thick and doesn’t have the same health benefits as honey.  

Some people prefer to completely omit a sweetener, which creates a juice, rather than a syrup. Without a sweetener, the elderberry juice takes on an earthy flavor. Elderberry juice doesn’t have the same extended shelf life as syrup, and will need to be frozen or consumed much more quickly. 

For an additional boost in flavor and immune-boosting benefits

Some of our readers have added citrus to this recipe and had great success. This is not something we’ve tried, so we can’t speak into it, but it’s certainly a great way to level up your elderberry syrup. To do this, squeeze half an orange or lemon into the boiling water. Add the peel to the pot along with the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Boil and strain as directed.  

How long does the syrup keep?

When cooked and stored properly (we recommend a glass airtight container), elderberry syrup keeps well in the fridge for 6 to 8 weeks.  

One batch will last our family of four about 2 weeks when using it preventatively during cold/flu season.  

For an extended shelf life, or to have on hand to use when someone comes down with the common cold, freeze the syrup in small 4-ounce mason jars or in ice cube trays 

Is elderberry syrup safe?

Yes, if prepared properly. When cooked down into a syrup, elderberry is safe to ingest and a great natural remedy. The stems, leaves and raw berries of the elder bush are poisonous and should never be consumed. 

Other uses

  • As part of a tincture or cocktail ingredient 
  • Added to hot tea 
  • In moderation on pancakes or waffles 

Other cold and flu recipes to use alongside your elderberry syrup

Cold and flu season? No problem! We want you to be prepared with the arsenal of all-natural remedies that you and your family may need. To help, we’ve done a few posts on natural cold remedies:

While there certainly is a time and a place for doctor’s visits and conventional medicine, and we would never suggest avoiding them when ill, there isn’t much that can be done for the common cold or mild case of the flu.

In our experience, elderberry syrup is a great natural remedy that offers some relief during minor colds and the flu. Remember to always check with a doctor or health-care professional before using any natural remedy. 

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Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe (Immune Boosting)


  • Course: ,
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup dried elderberries
  • 3 & 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon ground or 1 drop ginger essential oil)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried cloves (or 1 drop clove essential oil)
  • 1/2 cup honey (more to taste)

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried elderberries and remove any twigs or unripe berries. 
  2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Cover and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 45-60 minutes. Occasionally check to make sure the water has not reduced past the point of the berries. If this happens, add ¼ cup of water at a time until the entire cook time has finished.  
  3. It’s important to simmer, rather than boil. Otherwise, the liquid will take on a bitter flavor from the elderberries being boiled under extremely high heat. 
  4. Remove from heat and allow liquid to cool to a lukewarm temperature. You want the liquid to be warm enough to dissolve the honey but not too hot (otherwise you compromise the valuable benefits of raw honey).  
  5. Pour liquid through a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth into a bowl. Press remaining liquid out of berries with the back of a wooden spoon or by squeezing cheesecloth. Discard the berries. 
  6. Add the honey and stir well. Pour syrup into a 16-ounce mason jar, allow it to cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or freeze for up to 6 months. 
  7. There is no standard medical dosing for this syrup but the general recommended daily dose is ½ – 1 teaspoon for kids and ½ – 1 tablespoon for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day, until symptoms disappear (3-4 days). 

Notes

If using fresh or frozen elderberries, double the quantity. 

This recipe contains raw honey and is not safe for children under 1 year of age to consume. 

Always check for FfL-friendly ingredients.

We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.

As always, this is not personal medical advice. We recommend that you talk with your doctor before using any natural remedy to ensure it’s right for you. 

Category :How To's, Do It Yourself, Natural Remedies, Health & Wellness, Recipes, Self-Care

Sources

  • Sidor, A., & Gramza-Michałowska, A. (2014, August 5). Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review. Journal of Functional Foods. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464614002400.  
  • Zakay-Rones , Z., Thom , E., Wollan , T., & Wadstein, J. (n.d.). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. The Journal of international medical research. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15080016/. 
  • Krawitz C;Mraheil MA;Stein M;Imirzalioglu C;Domann E;Pleschka S;Hain T; (2011, February 25). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC complementary and alternative medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21352539/. 
  • Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016, March 24). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848651/. 

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