Homemade Elderberry Syrup

By Ashley Devonish | Category: Healthy Living, Recipes & Kitchen Tips

If you are like me, you have had to cancel or reschedule your fair share of meetings, play dates and activities this winter due to colds.  In fact our family has been hit hard this week as my husband currently has pneumonia, our daughter has an ear infection, feaver and cough, our youngest has a fever and a cough and I do as well.  Hunter’s symptoms are more mild but I don’t know how long that will last while being around the rest of us sickies.

After talking with one of my friends, I discovered that she has been making an elderberry syrup for her family to help boost their immune system.  Although I was familiar with the immune boosting properties of elderberries, I had never thought to try to make my own elixir!  Turns out it is both easy and affordable (double bonus)!  Now, before I share the recipe, I will first share with you what Wikipedia has to say about the benefits of elderberries:

Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Sambucus nigra L. may be an effective treatment for H1N1 flu. A 1995 study found: “A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B.” A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given elderberry extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. A 2009 study found that the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Amantadine. A 2004 study found that symptoms of influenza A and B virus infections were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. The study stated, “Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study”.

Now I don’t know about you, but that seems like something worth trying right?  If you purchase elderberry syrup at a store like Supper Supplements you can expect to pay between $4.50 (for 2 oz) – $19.50 (for 5.4 oz).  However, making 3 cups of syrup (24 oz) at home will cost you less than $3.00!  Here is how you do it:

1/2 cup of dried elderberries (I was able to purchase these at a local heath food store)

1/2 cup of honey (preferably raw)

3 cups of water

-Combine the dried elderberries with the water and bring to a boil.

-Cover and simmer 30 to 40 min (usually finished in about 30 min).

-Mash the berries in the water, then strain them and pour the juice into a mixing bowl.  The first time I made this I simply mashed the berries and poured out the juice but the second time I mashed the berries and then put a paper towel (or a cheese cloth would have been even better as one reader suggested, if I would have had some on hand) over my bowl and poured the juice though.  The berries that were “caught” in the towel were then squeezed to remove all extra juice.  I think this method did a better job of removing all the yummy juice from the berries.

-Add your honey and mix in.  I prefer to wait to add the honey until the syrup is no longer “hot” but just warm.  This way it still mixes in well but preserves the good properties present in the raw honey.

-Pour the mixture into a jar (such as a canning jar) and keep it in the fridge.

I wish that the Wikipedia article would have mentioned the dosing they used for their tests but I didn’t notice any.  A dose suggestion is once a day when you aren’t sick and more when you are–about 1 to 2 tbs per dose.  If any of you have any personal experience with making your own syrup or have dosing suggestions please share!

I thought that the taste was quite pleasant but my kids were not quite as impressed so for them I simply add a little more honey or mix it with equal parts grape juice.  I have also experimented with adding it to oatmeal and my fruit smoothies and both worked well.  Here is hoping that it helps us heal quickly!

After making this recipe (and discovering how many cool herbs I could buy at my local health food store) I got excited about the idea of making my own home remedies.  I bought the online ebook Herbal Nurturing and started right in on the Natural Elm Bark Lozenges.  They were both fun and simple to make and I appreciated the extra tips, info and suggestions on how to include my little ones in the process!  Interested in making some of your own cough syrups, lozenges, balms, teas and more?  Check out the comprehensive Herbal Nurturing guide for only $8.95*!

*Full disclosure: After buying this book and enjoying it myself, I signed up to be an affiliate so clicking through my links will bring you to the site via my affiliate code.

**Disclaimer: Obviously I am not a doctor and this is not “medical advice”. :)

Ashley Devonish

I have a passion for helping moms and encouraging them in their journey through motherhood. I invite you to journey along with me!

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Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011

13 Responses to “Homemade Elderberry Syrup”

  1. Yay you! I liked your step-by-step pictures because it confirmed that I’m not doing it wrong, hehee. Good tip on the paper towel! I just need to get better about remembering to dose us all.

    I picked up a new fish oil supplement the other day that is easy to dose my kids with. Remind me to tell you about it when I see you.


    mom4life Reply:

    @Kira @ Kissing the Joy, glad we are both doing it “right” :) . I will look forward to hearing more about your fish oil.


  2. Hey, great pictures. We don’t go a day without our regular dose of Elderberry syrup:)


  3. [...] right to receive posts via email. Thanks for visiting!As I mentioned in my previous post about making homemade Elderberry Syrup, I am very interested in learning more about natural ways to help keep our family healthy.  Like [...]

  4. [...] If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the Elderberry Syrup recipe. [...]

  5. Cheese cloth works better than a paper towel, especially the reusable kind. You are less likely to add contaminants (that are in paper products from processing) to your products. Just a tip.


    mom4life Reply:

    @Jai, That is a really great tip, thanks! I need to buy some cheese cloth, it is one of those things I just haven’t invested in but for times like this I can see how it would work better. Thank you!


  6. I dose at a rate of 1 TB/day for a healthy and a sick adult. I’ve read that if an adult is sick, you could dose at 1 TB/hr (!), but that seemed a bit excessive to me. For little ones, I’ve been doing 1 tsp./day for a healthy and sick toddler/preschooler. I was wondering about the children’s dosage, but today I looked at a bottle of Eldertussin at my local health food store and they recommend 1 tsp/day also for children. While I have no idea if their concentration is the same, their dosing suggestions gave me a warm & fuzzy about my dosing.

    When, I make the syrup, I use less water (2c) and more honey (1c). I also add a stick of cinnamon and a few whole cloves to my elderberries in the pot and my little ones have no problem drinking it.


    mom4life Reply:

    @Chris, thank you for your feedback, I like your ideas for tweaking my recipe and your dosing feedback!


  7. [...] you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the Elderberry Syrup recipe and Slippery Elm Bark recipe that I posted previously.  Want more like this?  The above recipe [...]

  8. Would fresh elderberries (or frozen) work? I have lots of those.


    mom4life Reply:

    @Carol Anderson, Oh yes I am sure they would! I would probably guess that you may not need to use quite as much water since you won’t be hydrating them. I wish I knew more about a ratio but I really don’t think you can go wrong.


  9. I made my first homemade syrup today and since I have nothing to compare the smell and taste to, what should I expect? When I first simmered the berries in the water on the stove, my daughter asked, “what smells like cheese?”! Should I be worried? I have only tried the store version called Sambucol, and that does not taste like this one. If you could help with any info that would be great. Thank you.


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