How to make Elderberry Syrup



Berry season is a delight. So many different berries to jam, tincture and syrup it can be hard to find time to prepare them all. It is good to remember the benefits they will bring though in the depths of winter with their delicious tastes and medicinal values. Elderberries are traditionally used to soothe sore throats, keep away colds, remove congestion and catarrh, and as a gentle laxative, diuretic and diaphoretic. They are also rich in calcium and a good blood tonic. They contain bioflavinoids which help maintain a healthy heart and blood vessels, reduce anxiety and are anti-inflammatory.

I have made Elderberry syrup before but it was a few years ago and I needed to restock so I searched around in books and on the web for an easy recipe to make and share. I went with this one- thank you!

Here is a step by step guide to how I made it. We tested it at the Penicuik Herb Study Group and it was delicious! The only thing I would change is to follow the original advice and wear gloves as I dyed my hands a nice shade of purple.

Step 1 – Gather some berries from Elder trees and bushes. Do not strip one bush clean, instead take a few bunches from each tree as you walk along a hedgerow or only take lower berries from a larger tree. This allows there still to be plenty of berries for birds during the winter. Remember to ask the Elder spirit for permission, here is a traditional Danish woodcutters phrase asking Hylde Moer for her wood (Brooke, 1998):

Lady Ellhorn give me some of thy wood, I will give some of mine when it grows in the forest.

For identification guidelines see here:

Step 2 – Strip berries from the stem, I left smaller bits that stayed on otherwise you could be there all day. Put in a pan with a small amount of water not quite covering them and cook for about 15-20 mins until they are soft and mushy.


Step 3 – Strain the berries through muslin into a measuring jug so you can see how much juice you have. Squeeze juice out but take care it is REALLY HOT and you will stain your hands. If you are a more patient person you will let it cool, which I would recommend! Wear rubber gloves. I found using a big spoon to help push juice out worked well.


Step 4 – When you have your juice, add the same amount of sugar and put back in pan. If you have 200ml juice add 200g  sugar, if 500ml juice – 500g sugar. Put back on the heat and bring to a boil and simmer for about 5-10mins.



Step 5 – Pour into steralized bottles. I put them in the oven on a medium heat while cooking fruit. Remember they will be HOT when you take them out of oven and will stay HOT for a long time (I made that mistake so be warned – they do a good job of looking cool)!

Step 6 – Put the lid on bottle and as with all herbal preparations label with date and what you have made. I store mine in the fridge and take a teaspoon when I feel I need a boost to keep away colds. Enjoy! It should last for a year at least, if not more.



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