DIY: Elderberry Syrup

Since our relocation, it’s taken me a bit of time to remember the places I used to hold sacred as foraging grounds.  The plants I used to forage are slowly coming back to me and while I missed most of the wildcrafting season this year that didn’t stop me from crafting some elderberry syrup to support me through the winter months!  There are a lot of ways that elderberries can be used – one of my dear friends uses the flowers to make the most amazing elderberry champagne.  Jam, syrup, cordial, wines, and chutneys are all lovely ways to enjoy these tasty berries!!  They have been used by herbalists and foragers for centuries as a way to support the immune system when it begins to feel weaker during cold and flu season.

Elderberry syrup is surprisingly easy to make and can be adapted so you can use what you have in your fridge, herbal pantry or garden.  In this recipe we’ll be exploring an elderberry syrup that contains some of my favorite Chinese herbs to support the wei qi as well as the qi of the Taiyin (Lungs and Spleen).  This syrup can be added to tea, used over pancakes, mixed into cocktails or just sipped by the spoonful when you start to feel like you’re getting sick. 


6 cups cold water

2 cups dried elderberries (if you’re not able to forage them yourself, Mountain Rose Herbs has a lovely supply)

1-2 cinnamon sticks, gently bruised

1” fresh ginger, cut into slices

¼ cup Echinacea root

1 TBS orange peel

1 TBS dried rosehips

pinch of cardamom pods

pinch of cloves


Optional additional ingredients if going to use primarily as a medicinal:

1 TBS licorice root

1 TBS white peony root

1 TBS cinnamon twig

3-4 Chinese dates

1 TBS codonopsis root

Let the elderberries soak in the water for about an hour in a large saucepan.  After the soak place on the stove and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a simmer and add your herbs, covering the pot when you’re done and allowing to gently simmer for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes has passed, turn the heat off and pour the mixture through a strainer, pressing the berries to release the juice (I actually mashed everything with a potato masher before pouring, which worked really well!).  Once your mixture is strained and you’ve composted the herbs add 1-2 cups of honey to the still-warm syrup.  If the syrup isn’t warm enough to dissolve the honey, heat gently back up (but don’t boil if the honey is already added – this will kill any goodness in raw honey!) to incorporate the honey into the liquid.  I used 1 cup of honey, which gave the syrup just enough sweetness.  Pour into sterilized glass bottles or mason jars, label and keep refrigerated for your seasonal enjoyment! 

The syrup should keep for 3-4 months in the fridge.  In some folks, a compound in elderberries can cause diarrhea -- if this turns out to be you, then it's a sign to share your syrup with others and discontinue use!


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure, or prevent any diseases.  The information provided is for educational purposes only.  For health care advice, please consult your Primary Care Physician or other health care professional.