Elderberry Syrup recipe (2024)


Elderberry Syrup recipe (1)

During the summer, like everyone else in Paris, I get outta town for a long break. I often visit friends who live in the country in nearby in the Seine-et-Marne, a region a little over an hour from Paris.

You probably know about the famous cheese from there, brie de Meaux, which is sold in big, gooey rounds at most of the markets in the area. There’s a big one on Sunday mornings in Coulommiers, but I prefer the smaller but better market on Saturdays, in the town of Provins, which featuresproducteurs, the folks who grow and sell their own fruitsand vegetables.

Elderberry Syrup recipe (2)

Elderberries are pretty prolific and although I’ve not seen them in any markets, the friends who I stay with have a huge tree and if you’re a spry climber, you probably can pick more than you know what to do with all at once.

The difficulty in preparing elderberries, or as they call them in France, sureaux, are picking the tiny berries off the microfiber-like stems. (Earlier in the season, the blossoms can be turned into elderflower fritters or elderflower syrup.) The berries appear in spidery tufts on the farthest end of the branches and I nearly chopped down my friend’s tree trying to get the ripest berries way-high up at the top. And I almost killed myself using their pre-war ladder…and that’s pre World War I, mind you.

Elderberry Syrup recipe (3)

But I need to keep busy even when I’m relaxing on vacation, which is my very own French-American paradox, and when I saw the giant elderberry tree practically awash with tiny purple berries behind the house I was staying at, I couldn’t resist hauling out the ladder and spending a good couple of hours clipping away. Unfortunately the berries that caught my eye were higher up than I thought from down below, and I ended up perched too-high up on that rickety ladder with a saw and clippers, risking my life for the little buggers.

Elderberry Syrup recipe (4)

The gorgeous syrup is great in a glass of sparkling water over ice, dripped some over plain yogurt, atop a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or use it to make an lively kir. And hello pancakes and waffles! You can also use the berries to make Elderberry jelly.

Elderberry Syrup recipe (5)

Once you get them down off the tree, the fun just keeps coming and coming. You need to pluck the little purple berries off the branches. But too often a little bit of the delicate stem usually comes off with them and that needs to be removed if you’re going to toss them in a compote or a crisp. It’s picky work, but the rewards are delicious.

Elderberry Syrup recipe (6)


Make sure the cookware you’re using is non-reactive and your clothes are stain-friendly. If you use an aluminum pot, it’ll get stained and the next batch of mashed potatoes you make may come out pink. Ditto for spatulas and anything else to plan to use to stir the syrup while it’s cooking. If you live somewhere where huckleberries are available, you could use them instead.

  • 2 pounds (1kg) elderberries, (see note below), woody stems removed and rinsed
  • 4 cups (1L) water
  • 2 1/2 cups (500g) sugar
  • one nice-sized squirt of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Put the elderberries in a large, non-reactive pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender and soft.

  • Pass through a food mill, then discard the skins.

  • Pour the juice back into the pot (I use a fine-mesh strainer again at this point), add sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Cool completely.

  • Pour into a bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator.


Note: Some varieties of elderberries are not meant for consumption and none should be eaten raw, especially the leaves. I remove all of the hard, woody stems as well before cooking. For more information, Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture has guidelines, noting the fruits are used in “…pies, jellies and jams.” If you’re unsure if your elderberries are edible, consult your local cooperative extension before consuming.

Storage: In the refrigerator, I’ve kept this syrup up to one year. If it shows any signs of mold, scrape it away, and bring the syrup back to a full boil again.

Elderberry Syrup recipe (2024)


How much homemade elderberry syrup should I take daily? ›

Preventative Use: Take 1 teaspoon daily during the cold and flu season. During Illness: Increase to 1 teaspoon 3 times a day at the onset of symptoms.

What not to mix with elderberry? ›

Possible Interactions
  • Diuretics (water pills). Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluid and increase the amount of urine your body makes. ...
  • Diabetes medications. Elderberry may lower blood sugar levels. ...
  • Chemotherapy. ...
  • Laxatives. ...
  • Theophylline (TheoDur). ...
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system.

Can you take too much homemade elderberry syrup? ›

This can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, or more serious side effects if consumed in large quantities. Stop using elderberry and call your doctor at once if you have: severe or ongoing vomiting or diarrhea; numbness; or.

Is homemade elderberry syrup better than store bought? ›

Homemade Elderberry Syrup vs Store Bought

By comparison, my homemade syrup is about a quarter of the price of over-the-counter options. The other draw back of over-the-counter versions is the sweetener, usually it's glucose. My recipe uses raw honey as a sweetener, which has so many healing properties.

How many days in a row can you take elderberry syrup? ›

You can take elderberry daily to help prevent the spread of viruses.

What is the best time of day to take elderberry syrup? ›

Although there is no specific time of day to take elderberry, you'll maximize its benefits by using it consistently on a regular basis. You can choose whether to use it morning, afternoon or evening. It may be best to use elderberry for short periods of time to support healthy immune function, and then take a break.

How do you remove cyanide from elderberries? ›

To neutralize toxins, specifically cyanide-inducing glycosides, heat treatment is a must. Boiling elderberries for at least 30 minutes is the go-to method. This ensures the destruction of harmful compounds. Steaming or baking can also do the trick, as long as the berries reach a high enough temperature.

Is elderberry safe for kidneys? ›

Cardiovascular disease risk biomarkers and liver and kidney function are not altered in postmenopausal women after ingesting an elderberry extract rich in anthocyanins for 12 weeks.

How do you remove toxins from elderberries? ›

Both the berries and flowers of the elderberry tree are edible, but elderberries need to be cooked before being consumed to eliminate the toxin sambunigrin.

What form of elderberry is most effective? ›

When it comes to maintaining a strong immune system, black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are the preferred choice.

How long does homemade elderberry syrup last? ›

It's a good idea to always have a bottle on hand throughout the year to help with immunity, allergies, colds, and flu. Like any other fruit juice it will start to ferment if left out for too long. Elderberry syrup, when stored in a glass jar in the fridge, will stay good for 3 months.

What is the healthiest way to consume elderberry? ›

Elderberry pie, elderberry syrup, elderberry jam—the sweet taste and even sweeter health benefits of this tiny fruit come in many forms. The most popular way to use fresh elderberries is to cook them into a syrup or extract used to support your immune system.

Should homemade elderberry syrup be refrigerated? ›

Transfer the elderberry syrup to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. This small batch usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks in my home, depending on how many of my family members remember to take it, but you can double the recipe if needed.

Do elderberry gummies work as well as elderberry syrup? ›

The syrup is absorbed most quickly by the body—whereas if you take elderberry gummies, capsules, lozenges, or teas, they're less potent and/or take longer for the body to digest. Not to mention, the gummies often have added sugar.

Why is elderberry syrup so expensive? ›

Commercial elderberry syrups are pricey because of pasteurization. Although it is a standard practice in many manufacturing processes, it kills the healthy properties of honey (if the honey was even added), large amounts of low-quality sweeteners, Low amounts of actual elderberries, and often cheap additives.

Can you take homemade elderberry syrup daily? ›

Elderberries offer excellent nutrition that contains antioxidants and vitamin C, which can boost the immune system among other benefits. Yes, you can take elderberry supplements daily, even three to four times a day. However, you should not take more than the recommended daily dose.

Is it OK to take elderberry syrup everyday? ›

Elderberry supplements seem to have few risks when used daily for up to five days. The safety of its long-term use is unknown. Risks. Never eat or drink any product made from raw elderberry fruit, flowers, or leaves.

Should you take elderberry syrup in the morning or at night? ›

Elderberry can generally be consumed at any time of day—in the morning, at night, or in between. Since it's a food itself, you could take Elderberry on an empty stomach if it seems to work for you. It can also be taken with food.

What is the dosing for elderberry syrup? ›

We recommend 1 tablespoon daily for adults, and 1 teaspoon daily for children over one to help boost the immune system year round. If you are feeling sick or have the flu, increase dosage to 1 tablespoon every 3-4 hours up to 6 times per day (for children over one use 1 teaspoon).

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