I almost didn't do it.
And then I said to myself, “Self, quit being lazy. You found two hours to watch Parks and Recreation re-runs last week, and thus, you have plenty of time to do this.” It's amazing the mind games we play with ourselves. Ten minutes to shave my legs? Nearly impossible. Two hours to run errands that I could have easily consolidated into twenty minutes with proper planning? Yup, that's me.
So I gave in to my lazy self and I made it, knowing that in the frigid chill of winter I would be glad. And surely, I will be.
When our family came down with the plague a few years ago, we bought a bottle of this natural cold remedy at the health food store. For $17 dollars. Now, I may be a natural(esk) snob….but even I have my boundaries. And $17 for a bottle of cold medicine was that boundary. And therefore, my friends, monetary necessity has driven me to make my own. And besides the cost of the honey, it's pretty much free.
So what are elderberries and why should we consume them?
Elderberries look like this:
Clusters of blueish berries.
Don't eat the red ones, they are toxic! And don't eat the blue ones raw, they are toxic too! The berries must be cooked. Just FYI. Don't worry, I've got your back. You're welcome.
– Is antiviral
– Shortens the duration of the flu
– Reduces the severity of the flu (runny nose, sore throat, muscle pain, fever)
– Reduces inflammation
– Is rich in antioxidants
– Acts as a very mild laxative (that is a yucky word to write in a blog)
– Helps to lower cholesterol
– Is an all-around immune booster!
I wanted to make my own last year, but I missed the harvest window by about a month. Dang. When those beautiful ‘ol berry clusters made their appearance all around our valley this last month, I knew I had to seize the day. Which I did. This syrup was extremely easy to make and is wonderfully delicious.
Step One: Wash 4 cups of fresh elderberries from a local bush or 2 cups of dehydrated berries. Combine the berries with 8 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer the berries for 45 minutes.
Use a bigger pan than this. Notice I said, use a ‘large pot'. I am a brainfart, and thus, chose this pan. Great idea.
Step Two: Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then strain the berries and branches out with a fine, mesh strainer. Be sure to smoosh all the goodness out of those berries!
Step Three: Stir in 2 cups of raw honey.
Step Four: Bottle. Refrigerate. Consume.
As a preventative measure, herbalists recommend taking 1-2 tablespoons per day. Be it over oatmeal, fruit, or pancakes. Or heck, just take a shot of it. It's good for ya. And it's delicious. Booya.
I'm so excited to have these bottles stocked in the fridge! We will begin consuming our daily dose this month in hopes of preventing the ‘ol winter plague that is inevitable when one is breathing stale air for 23 hours a day.
Also, if you've happened upon an elderberry bush, clip some extras off! These berries freeze wonderfully! I've frozen a few gallon bags so that I can replenish our supply once the current syrup runs low.
I'm thinking about mixing up some of my extra elderberries into elderberry jelly…has anyone tried this? Any good recipes out there?
I have one more month of ambition to get all these fun projects and/or cooking projects completed. Because once the middle of October hits…this homesteader is not doing anything but laundry for six months.
And that's if-fy.
You elderberries look different than ours here. I’m still amking elderberry juice here too.
Carol J. Alexander
The elderberries should be blue/black. We make syrup every winter, too. But when I pick the berries I just freeze them and make syrup as needed. When a year rolls around and it’s time to pick berries again, I take the old ones out of the freezer that we didn’t use and make jam out of them. I just follow the instructions on the box of pectin for blueberry jam. It’s easy. Thanks for the post. Reminded me that it’s time to go pickin’.
Oooo…I’m so gonna try this! Any idea how long it’s good for in the fridge? Where did you get your nifty glass bottles from? I know my sis has made elderberry jelly–it’s delicious! I don’t know of any recipes, but I’m sure they’re out there.
Lisa @ Two Bears Farm
How cool that you made your own! It is expensive – we like to keep it around during cold season.
Faith Food and Farm
just made a batch of elderberry jelly with ours. It’s great and they grow all over the place around here
Is there anywhere else you can find elderberries/buy them – I don’t know of any around us. I love this idea of making your own 🙂
mountainroseherbs.com sells organic elderberries.
Great stuff! We actually ordered a batch of elderberry bushes from the conservation department and now have a dozen of them as a privacy hedge in our yard. The birds love them and so do we!
i used to eat raw elderberries growing in the woods behind our house all the time as a kid; didn’t know they were toxic or that you could make such a lovely little tonic out of them. I always just thought they were a weird tasting berry.
Susie Cox Horvath
I put them in my smoothie once not knowing about the toxicity. Threw up like crazy a few hours after. 🙁
How long does it last in the fridge?
A few weeks. It freezes really well though, so normally I just a keep a small bit thawed in the fridge.
Hello! Thank you for posting this. I first saw it on one of your videos and have been looking for the recipe but specifically to get the name of the essential oil you added but this recipe didn’t list it. Is that something you can share? Thank you and I truly enjoy all of your videos, very inspiring!
Susie Cox Horvath
Shaye, I made this today out of your cookbook. It does not say whether or not to simmer it covered or uncovered. I left mine covered and mine turned out pretty runny. I am assuming it is uncovered; correct? 🙂
I just read online that you should simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by half to ensure that the toxins have been deactivated. Has anyone else heard this before?
Had a thought.. I made some of this not long ago, and trying to come up with a way to preserve it without taking up freezer space. What if I canned it *pre-honey* and then added honey after opening it? Just wondered if you’d pondered this little predicament yourself, especially with all that meat headed for your freezer!
Hmm… not sure? I’m not sure about canning it without a sugar or acid. May be worth some more research though! We’re having to invest in a second freezer for all the meat and chickens that will soon be in there! Good thing electricity is cheap here 😉
Thanks for the recipe for the Elderberry syrup. My Mom always made Elderberry jelly, it was so good.
I made this the other day but was wondering the doage for kids?
I have never made the syrup but I make elderberry kombucha all the time and it has the most wonderful flavor. Thanks for this post.
We grow elderberries here at our farm. They are really easy to grow and the best bushes are just cut off at the base every February and allowed to grow back. They do send out runners so be sure you plant them judiciously. We freeze all of our berries before cooking because, once heated, they release a lot more of the juice. They are also much easier to destem. It is important not to have stems or green berries in your syrup, jams, pies, etc. It is actually becoming a pretty good sized alternative to traditional farming here. Elderberries are used, not only for syrups etc., but as a coloring agent in all sorts of things from textiles to medications. For more info on how to grow and use Elderberries you can link to the University of Missouri, where they have done years of research. My only disappointment with them is that my jam seems to be on the thin side. Sure tastes great on the pancakes and home made ice cream!
Is it harmful if I overlook a few very small pieces of stem or green berries?