May 7, 2013

Fresh from the Kitchen: Homemade Elderberry Syrup (with pictures!)

To stay on top of the fall and winter sniffles, we really took advantage of our homemade elderberry syrup this year! It didn’t matter who had them—everyone got a spoonful…yes, even daddy! But now that spring is upon me, I found that I was running low on my stash, so it was time to make another batch. 

I was blessed to get this recipe from my friend Anna at Where my Treasure Is...who had gotten it from someone herself. This is the same recipe. I have had requests to show a photo step-by-step of my process as well as the recipe, so here you go all you visual learners!!

recipe courtesy of The Family Homestead

  You just need three or four ingredients to make this syrup: 
elderberries (Dried or fresh), water, honey and Brandy/whiskey (optional) 

While we do have elderberry bushes here near me, I have to beat the birds to the berries as they are in tall, TALL bushes…and on the other side of a chain link fence! But this year I’m going to get some! So…since I don’t have any fresh, I use dried elderberries. I order mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are a great price and I can get 2 ½ batches from the quantity I order (I think it's the 8 oz).

So let’s get started…

Add 1 cup of dried berries (or 3 cups fresh) to 3 cups of water in a large pot or saucepan (depends on how big of batch you are making).
homemade elderberry syrup
Before they are cooked, the berries float on the top...

 Bring to a boil—then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour uncovered. And you will know once they boil because they will smell. Elderberries are a rather potent smelling berry when cooked. I have to open my windows because it can get rather overpowering! LOL!
homemade elderberry syrup
You can see that the simmered berries looks much different as it released all the good juices.

 Strain out berries—you can use cheesecloth, a dishtowel or a mesh strainer. But be forewarned—these stain!!! So unless you use something old or able to be thrown away, I don’t recommend using cloth. I have a small mesh strainer which is ideal—no staining! I strain into a glass Pyrex bowl...
elderberry syrup

Now if you have chickens or other poultry, they will LOVE your leftover berries! If you don’t have any, compost it or toss it into your garden.

At this point you have a nice rich juice and it’s time to turn it into a syrup…

   Now you need to have your honey ready—and whiskey or brandy if you are going to add it. So far I have been using whiskey. We can get these little bottles of whiskey locally for just $3.00. 

What is the benefit of adding the alcohol?
You can keep it in your fridge for several months as it “preserves” it.  If you choose to not add it, you can keep it in small bottles in the freezer to use as needed. I prefer to have it in my fridge since I use it for smoothies and want it readily available in the chance of needing to dose it out. And since I know whiskey/brandy is an “old fashioned remedy" for coughs/colds (hot toddy anyone??) I like adding it to my batch.

You will also need to have out the container you are going to put it in. I love my big 2 quart canning jars for this. I also have an empty brandy bottle (from previous batches!) that I use for the dosing bottle.

 Add 1 ½ cups of honey and 1 tablespoon of brandy/whiskey (if using) to the elderberry juice and stir until dissolved. It will start looking syrupy…

Pour into the container you will store it in and label it!
homemade elderberry syrup

I like to write the dosage on the lid of my jar so anyone can read it…
It should say "2-3 times a day or as needed" but since I'm the one who administers it, it's not a big deal.
When someone starts to get the first symptoms of a cold/flu, start giving them a spoonful 2 to 3 times daily.
Adults= 1 tablespoon
Children = 1 teaspoon

So there you have it!  It’s a great recipe and really does help keep your immune system going strong! We like to match it with our favorite tea for when you are starting to feel icky—Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Elder. We were able to keep the flu at bay and the sickies to a minimum over the fall/winter season!

Homemade Elderberry Syrup(source)

1 cup dried elderberries (
If you have a source of fresh elderberries you can also use about 3 cups fresh to equal the 1 cup dried)
3 cups water
1 ½ cups honey
Optional, but not necessary is 1 tablespoon of brandy/whiskey. This helps preserve the syrup.

In a large pot combine the elderberries and water. Bring this to a boil and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered. Strain out the elderberries. You can use an old clean dishcloth to strain your berries (but it will get stained so make sure it is an old one). Add the honey and optional brandy and stir till dissolved. Store this syrup in the refrigerator in a glass canning jar or if you did not add the brandy then store in smaller bottles in the freezer. This way you can take a small bottle out as needed. When you or someone in your family shows the first symptoms of a cold or the flu begin taking spoonful two to three times daily. An adult spoonful would equal about a tablespoon and a child’s spoonful would be a teaspoon or so.

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