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Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberry syrup has been used for centuries as a home remedy for cold and flu and is believed to speed up recovery time. I used to buy elderberry syrup on first cold or flu symptoms and it has always worked for me. Often symptoms would improve or disappear altogether. This year I discovered that there are dozens of elders (Sambucus nigra) growing nearby and I decided to make my own syrup. The recipe is simple and will save me lots of money. One 120ml bottle is approx £10 in health stores and pharmacy and will only get me through 3 days of infection.

If pasteurised, the juice/syrup keeps a very long time. Berries can also be made into wine, jams, and used in cakes. Elderberries are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, anthocyanins and contain phenolic acids and flavonols.

Those with weak immune system, allergies, pregnant or breastfeeding women or on certain medication, should consult a doctor before taking elderberry syrup. It is also not advisable for children to take it. This is because there is not enough research on how it affect youngsters. Please, seek medical advice if you are unsure on how it might affect you.

I take one teaspoon daily to prevent infection; one to two teaspoons four times daily when infection has developed. Elderberry syrup can be diluted with water or mixed with other juices.

Tip: Cook the berries on same day you’ve picked them.

Caution: Raw elderberries should NOT be consumed. The stems, leaves, and uncooked seeds are toxic. Cooked berries are safe for consumption. Elderberries need to be fully ripe (almost black), otherwise may upset your tummy. A few red ones won’t hurt you, but strictly no green ones, please! Remove stalks and leaves before cooking.

Ingredients - to make about 400 ml

500g ripe, black elderberries, stalks removed

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar (I used brown, white sugar or honey is fine, too)


Wash the berries whilst still on stalks. Strip the ripest berries - you could use gloves, as berries can stain your skin. This is the most time-consuming part of the recipe. Get a helper if you can. Some people use a comb or fork for stripping the berries. However, I found removing the unripe berries from the pot even more time-consuming, so I prefer to do it right at the beginning and it’s easiest by hand. You will still need to get rid of the odd red and green ones.

Weigh the berries and adjust the ingredients according to how much you have. Don’t worry too much about ratio - you will find various recipes all over the web. Use your judgement and add more or less if necessary.

Place the berries in a pot, add water and sugar. Cook on medium heat uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing them with potato masher in the end. 

Let the mixture cool down a bit. Prepare a clean bowl and a fine sieve lined with a cheese cloth.

Poor the mixture through the sieve and squeeze out the cloth until you’ve seen the last drop of the juice landing in your bowl. Every drop counts - don’t let precious vitamin C go to waste!

Bring the liquid to boil again, and simmer on low for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sterilise your jar(s). I used soapy water to clean it, then rinsed with boiling water and kept in the over at 100 Celcius for about 20 minutes (works for ordinary jars with metal lids).


Pour hot juice into a hot jar, seal it and turn it upside down. Wrap a thick towel and duvet or blanket around it and leave for several hours for it to cool down slowly.

Pasteurised syrup will store for about a year in the kitchen pantry (or coolest place of your house). When open, store in the fridge and use within 5 days.

Without pasteurisation, it’ll keep it in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

See web for different pasteurising methods.

Enjoy your healthy shot!