Homemade elderberry syrup is an immune-supportive recipe to help keep you and your family healthy all season long. This simple functional recipe will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months!
For more immune-supportive recipes and tips check out my entire roundup of Natural Cold and Flu Recipes.
Cold and flu season is upon us and it also feels like we've been in “sick” season for nearly 3 years straight!
As temperatures drop, and germs propagate, your kitchen can become your immune-supportive best friend and I am here to show you how with one of my favorite recipes.
This time of year I begin teaching my “Kitchen Farm-acy” class for organizations around the world, broadcasting live from my kitchen I share my top 6 immune supportive recipes that I rely on for cold and flu prevention and to shorten the duration and severity of illness. This great elderberry syrup is always top on the list!
This simple homemade recipe should be a staple in your kitchen all year round. Just wait until you see how easy elderberry syrup is to make. Be sure to read the whole post to learn the incredible healing benefits of this superfood berry!
Table of contents
Your Healing Kitchen is Now Open!
Ingredients and Substitutions
This natural remedy can be made with a few simple ingredients found in the health food store or online.
- Dried Elderberries – The superstar of this recipe, dried raw elderberries are a potent immune tonic (see below for studies and details). They taste like a rich molasses earthy combination between a blackberry and currant.
- Dried Rosehip – A wonderful source of vitamin C, dried rosehip lends a bright citrus tang to elderberry syrup.
- Cinnamon sticks – Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, but also lends a warm cozy vibe to this medicinal tonic.
- Whole Cloves – Whole cloves have been used anesthetically to soothe a sore throat and are also an excellent expectorant.
- Fresh Ginger – A potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger is also excellent for quelling nausea and tummy upset.
- Honey- Raw honey is best, Raw local honey is even better.
Find the printable recipe with detailed measurements below
- Medium Saucepan or small pot
- Fine sieve
- Glass jar for storing
Why You Should Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup
- Made with Simple Things – Can you go to a store and buy elderberry syrup? Yes. Is homemade elderberry syrup a much better final product? Also yes. Is the store–bought version ok? Sure.
- Easier than you think – Here's the thing friends, this is one of those natural remedies that you may look at and think, “That's a nice idea, but I'm never doing it” and then, on a whim, you do it and think, “That was so easy, I don't understand why I resisted”.
- Bang for your buck – As herbal remedies go, homemade elderberry syrup is a cost-effective, potent, and easy recipe that is fantastic for general immune support in the winter months as well as when you need a little help with sore throats, flu symptoms, and common cold relief. Plus when you make your own homemade elderberry syrup, you get to decide how much honey to use and there is no need for any additional shelf stabilizer ingredients.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup in 3 Simple Steps
This homemade elderberry syrup recipe can be made with just a few simple ingredients found in the health food store or online.
- Step 1: Add dried berries, spices and fresh ginger to a medium saucepan or small pot. Cover with water, I use 4 cups of water.
- Step 2: Bring to a boil over medium heat turn down to a simmer, and reduce. The goal here is to make a decoction, you are extracting all of the potent medicinal benefits from the herbs and spices by boiling them down. Reduce your liquid by half.
- Step 3: Strain and smash. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve smashing the elderberries and spices with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much goodness as possible. Allow to cool to room temperature, mix in honey, and VOILA! Homemade elderberry syrup.
Medicinal Benefits of Elderberry
Black elderberries (sambucus nigra L.) are well-known and well-studied, agents against the common cold and influenza virus. Hippocrates referred to the elder tree (gifting us with both potent elderberries and elderflowers) as his medicine chest.
So ya know, if the health benefits of elderberries were good enough for Hippocrates, it's probably good for you too.
Elderberries are a rich source of vitamin C and anthocyanins and possess strong antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria and Gram-negative bacteria. This means it has been shown to be an effective agent against human pathogenic bacteria as well as influenza viruses. Elderberries have also been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the propagation of the influenza virus.
In other words, elderberries can both prevent the flu and reduce the duration of the flu by inhibiting the replication of the flu virus.
This stuff is potent.
If you are a nutrition nerd (like me!) I included 3 more elderberry studies below including a really cool one that showed a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers using elderberry extract.
Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M. A., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S., & Hain, T. (2011). 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, 11(1), 16.
Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182.
Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132-140.
How to use Elderberry Syrup
Drink 1-2 tablespoons per day during cold and flu season. You can add a bit to oatmeal for your kiddos as well. If you are feeling a bit wonky you can dose higher, up to 4 tbsp.
Elderberry Syrup in the Kitchen
Did you know that this home remedy is also a great culinary ingredient, especially when it comes to delicious drinks? Add elderberry syrup to seltzer with a splash of lemon juice for a super antioxidant-dense sparkling refreshment. Speaking of refreshments try my Apple Cider Immunity Sparkler for another ‘Elderbeverage'. I have a mocktail and a cocktail version.
How Long Does Elderberry Syrup Last in the Fridge?
When stored in an airtight container (a glass jar is best) homemade elderberry syrup can last up to 6 months. However, keep in mind that the amount of honey you use in the recipe will ultimately determine how long the elderberry syrup will last.
Honey works as a preservative due to the high concentration of sugar. Sugar has the ability to remove water from microorganisms via osmosis. This essentially means that if the concentration of a dissolved material, like sugar, is higher outside the microbe than inside, water will diffuse through the cell membrane to the outside, dehydrating and killing the microbe. (citation: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569289/
If you use a 50/50 ratio, elderberry decoction to honey your elderberry syrup can last up to 6 months, if you use a much lower percentage of honey to elderberry decoction it will last for more like 6-10 weeks.
Please check your elderberry syrup for any visible mold or foul smell before consuming.
As a rule of thumb I make fresh elderberry syrup each season, fall, winter, and spring (no need for it in summer!).
Homemade Elderberry syrup is great for helping ease Flu-like symptoms, sore throats, and common cold prevention. Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, Elderberry syrup may protect cells from oxidative damage as well as help prevent heart disease and cancer.
1 adult dose = 1 tablespoon. If you are sick, or becoming sick, a dose every 2- 3 hours. As a preventative measure, 1-2 doses daily can help boost your immune system during cold season. I find that when I feel the start of a cold, I can experience a significant improvement in symptoms after just 2 doses.
Eventually, it will start to ferment. This will deteriorate the syrup and lead to an unpleasant taste.
- Your immune system can't wait for you to make some Homemade Elderberry Syrup! When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo!
- If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
- 1 cup dried elderberries
- 1/2 cup dried rosehip
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp whole clove
- 1 inch fresh ginger root
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup honey
- Add elderberries, rosehip, cinnamon, clove, ginger and water to a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until liquid has reduced by half. This typically takes 20-30 minutes but keep your eye on it!
- Once the liquid has reduced, allow it to cool slightly, and then strain the liquid decoction through a fine mesh sieve into a glass measuring cup. Mash the elderberries with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Add honey to the decoction. The more honey you use the longer the shelf life of the elderberry syrup. I typically use anywhere from 1/4-1/2 cup but keep in mind it will be very sweet. Stir well until all of the honey is dissolved.
- Allow to cool completely, pour into glass jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.