When the world starts singing “it’s sweater weather” – that means it’s time to start making elderberry syrup! This yummy tonic has long been a popular flu remedy, taken daily through the cold and flu season.
Every herbalist will have their own way of making elderberry syrup, today I have a recipe for you that is both potent and mouth-watering delicious!
If you haven’t tried making your own elderberry syrup yet – it’s surprisingly simple to make, and a great way to work with this herb. So let’s dig in, learn a little more about Elder and how to make your own herbal syrup.
Getting to know Elder
The Elder is associated with the essence of a powerful female. Planted in your garden the Edler is thought to be the wise Crone that looks over all the others. In the book, The Book Of Herbal Wisdom, it speaks about the regard that people had for the Elder “It was considered a potentially fatal mistake to pick the plant without making an offering.”
My herbal school gave me a young elder tree and instructed me to “let the tree pick where it wants to be in the garden.” Although this sounded… odd… I did just that. I walked around my garden, holding the potted tree asking it “Here? How about here?” It’s such a humbling feeling letting yourself be guided by nature, not assuming to know it all – but to really let yourself listen and learn from nature.
Six months later, the Elder is growing very happily in the spot she picked – overlooking the rest of the garden. It’s funny too because now I look at this plant differently – I’ll glance over at it for guidance, like – Hi Elder, what do you think – should I plant the parsley here?
Elder Materia Medica
Elder has been used traditionally as food, and to support health. You’d most likely find Elderberry tincture or syrup in most herbalist homes and medicine cabinets, as the go-to remedy for colds and flu.
Elder is antiviral. Taken at the start of “cold and flu” season or at the first sign of a cold, it helps by interfering with virus replication and strengthens cell walls preventing penetration.
It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions, helping to soothe the swelling of mucous membranes, and the pain associated with colds and coughing.
To make Elderberry syrup, we use just the berries – but the whole plant is considered a “medicine chest”
Elder flowers are anti-inflammatory and help to move energy in a stagnant body, it supports detoxification increasing circulation and sweating, moving out toxins. It’s used dried, internally and topically. If you have access to fresh elderberry flowers, make an elderberry hydrosol to spray over congested, dull and stagnant skin. Or you can easily purchase dried elderberry flowers, to make mask formulation or bath products.
Elder leaves are made into poultices and infused into oil for topical use. It has vulnerary and astringent actions and often used to help support the healing of bruises and sores.
Elder berries are used cooked. You can make elderberry syrup from fresh or dried berries, although it’s easier for most to get dried berries online. Here are a couple of resources:
Mountain Rose Herbs
You can also use elderberry topically for skin health: to extract Vitamin C benefits (antioxidant protection, collagen boosting, skin brightening) infuse elderberry into honey for facial applications. Or, use powdered elderberry in a mask formulation and activate the constituents by steeping the powdered mask in hot water before application. To extract out Vitamin A benefits (natural retinol effect) infuse elderberry into oil and use on the skin.
Elderberry Syrup Dosage
To keep the sniffles away – take 1 teaspoon a day.
But that said – you don’t need to treat it like medicine. Elderberry syrup is herbal food, a delicious tonic that you consume as part of your diet to support your body through cold and flu season. Elderberries are nutritious – rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants and iron.
You can take it by the teaspoon, drizzle it over pancakes, add it to your oatmeal porridge. You can use it as a cocktail mixer, or add to sparkling water to make fizzy drinks.
Elderberry syrup tastes like tart red berries. It’s not sweet on its own, so you want to add sugar, honey or maple syrup to sweeten it (and also preserve it!)
You can make your elderberry plain and simple – just elderberry and sweetener. It’s delicious! But, you can also make variations.
Here are a few ingredients that you can add to create your own syrup blend:
- Cacao powder
- Chai Tea
- Schisandra Berries
If you come up with a yummy blend – please share – I’d love to know!
The amount of sweetener added to this recipe – is enough to preserve the product for 1 month in the refrigerator. When you run out, make it again! It’s so nice to have it on hand at all times, if a family or friend comes down with a cold, offer them some elderberry syrup.
You can also make a shelf-stable version that doesn’t need refrigeration by doubling the sweetener (too sweet for me!) Or, you can also add Brandy – but if you’re going that route, why not explore making yourself an Elderberry Cordial to enjoy after dinner.
There are many recipes and variations. I thought I’d show you one that my herbal teacher, Maggie taught us. It’s a Chocolate Elderberry Syrup, that taste like dessert on a spoon!
I did add my own special touch to the recipe. When Native Vanilla sent me a sample of their fair trade, ethically sourced vanilla pods – I had to add it into my elderberry syrup. The quality is beyond what you’ll find on supermarket shelves. The pods are kept moist in the vacuum-sealed packaging, and it hits you with this intense aroma! Adding it to the syrup gives it the depth, warmth, and coziness that vanilla offers.
Here is where you can purchase the vanilla pods: https://nativevanilla.com/
Chocolate Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 1 cup dried elderberries
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tsp cacao powder
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla pod
- sweetener of choice: honey, maple syrup or sugar
- In a small pot, add dried elderberries and water.
- Scrape one vanilla pod into the pot, and then add in the whole pod.
- Add in the cacao powder and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
- Turn on the stovetop and let the mixture come to a simmer.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for one hour.
- Strain out the mixture into a measuring bowl so that you can measure how much liquid you have. With this recipe, it should be around 1 cup of liquid.
- Add half that amount of honey to the liquid.
*for example, If you have 1 cup of liquid, add 1/2 cup of honey
- Mix well to dissolve the honey.
- Pour into a bottle for storage, label, and date it.
- Store in the refrigerator for 1 month
- Use daily