In Back to School, DIY, Fall, Homemaking, Nutrition, Winter/Christmas
Elderberries in a tree, ready to be picked for Elderberry Elixir

Elderberry Syrup Elixir Recipe

Avoid the flu and keep your whole family healthy this season with our homemade Elderberry Syrup Elixir.

Elderberries are said to be one of the most beneficial components to keeping the flu at bay, but the elderberry is so much more than that. Elderberries contain properties that help with numerous health ailments…but the memories of elderberries and my childhood is what I cherish the most. 

As a child I knew the elderberry was good. We’d boil them down into a sweet syrup and pour them on pancakes, and my mom would make me drink the bitter juice if I got the sniffles. Mama taught me they were good. I have memories gathering elderberries with my mom. She gathered seed for a local organic gardener, driving county roads and forest trails looking for the beloved elderberry. She also gathered rose hips, mountain ash and snow berry seed. My big brother and I would tag along, helping where we could.

When do you harvest elderberries?

I always know after the first heavy frost, it’s time to gather elderberries.  As a child, Mom would pack us a lunch, pack her buckets, ladder and special stick with a hook on the end to pull down the berry laden limbs. Once our supplies were gathered, we’d pile into the car and off we’d go.  

We gleaned berries until the buckets were full, then we’d sell them to the farmer and save some for our personal use.  Mom would make the dreaded bitter juice to keep us healthy, and now more than ever, I appreciate her efforts.

What are the benefits of elderberries?

As an adult, I have learned about the incredible benefits of elderberries. Aside from keeping the dreaded flu at bay, elderberries have the following health benefits:

  • Reduce inflammation in the joints
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Aid in healing sinus infections
  • A natural laxative
  • Skin toner
  • Helps prevent cancer with  anti-carcinogenic properties
  • (Source)

Our Harvest

Elderberries are abundant in our area. They grow along roads, in yards and on old homestead properties. This makes gleaning and gathering easy. Not the picking, but the finding. I missed the berries last fall, so this year I was determined to gather my share. My husband (who lovingly set apart an entire day to spend gathering with me) and I started out one fall morning to gather elderberries, we have a friend who has a large bush at the edge of his yard, and he generously let us glean from his elderberries. We have a smaller bush also, out in the back of our property, so off we went with our buckets, ladder, and a garden tool to pull down the branches…oh, and the 7 year old.

We had a glorious time, laughing and giggling, taking turns on the ladder. We gathered about twelve pounds of berries from our friend and about 6 pounds from our bush, enough berries to make my winter elderberry elixir and some to share.

My mama taught me to always make enough to share, be generous, give gifts, share…all part of the heirlooms my mama is leaving to me.

Elderberries in a tree, ready to be picked for Elderberry Elixir

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Elixir

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 quarts
  • Category: Home Remedy
  • Method: Canning


A recipe passed down for generations to help keep families healthy and strong during the cold and flu season and throughout the whole year.


  • 12 cups of elderberry juice (or dried elderberries, see “notes” for instructions)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh organic ginger, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon organic ground cinnamon (or 1 organic cinnamon stick, grated)
  • ½-1 cup honey, local and raw, if possible


  1. Wash and clean the berries. Rinse them under cold water, clean the leaves out, then clip the berries off the large clump. (I don’t take the time to remove the berries off the stem since I’m using this stainless steel steam juicer. See “notes” for other juicing techniques.)
  2. Place the cleaned berries in the strainer portion of the steamer. Place on a burner over medium-high heat and allow the water to boil.
  3. “Squish” the berries with a potato masher a few times to release the juices. Then, once the majority of the juice is released, empty the juice into a large pot.
  4. Add the ginger and cinnamon to the elderberry juice and return to a boil for five minutes.
  5. Add the honey and mix well.
  6. Ladle the boiling elderberry syrup into hot sterile jars. (I use these small half-pint jars, or these pint jars).
  7. Prep your jar lids by boiling them in a shallow pan of water. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp towel, add lid and ring your jars to finger-tip tight (basically, as tight as you can close the lid with just your finger-tips).
  8. Invert your jars for 20 minutes. When you flip them back over, they should be sealed. Alternatively, you can process them for 15-20 minutes in a hot water bath canner.
  9. Feed the pulp to the chickens! I haven’t found a “use” for elderberry pulp other than chicken feed, if you have one, please share in the comments below.


  • Other ways to extract juice, are to boil the berries and then press through a sieve or cheesecloth.  I invested in my juicer steamer several years ago, I used to borrow one from a friend each year for grape juice, but have found with my own I use it for so many tasks in the canning season.
  • If you don’t have access to fresh elderberries, you can use dried elderberries instead. The process is slightly different though. For dried elderberries you’ll want to use 2/3 cup dried berries and 3 1/2 cups water. Boil the berries and water together for 45-60 minutes and lightly mash the berries with a spoon. Strain through a sieve or cheesecloth and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • The method I use of inverting the jars is referred to as the “Russian” method of canning. I prefer to use this method over a water bath because I don’t want to boil away any more nutrients than I already have. This is the way my mom taught me, please do what is best for you and your family! Do your own research and find your family’s best practices.


  • Serving Size: 1 Tbs
  • Calories: 13
  • Sugar: 0.9g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.3g
  • Fiber: 0.9g
  • Protein: 0.1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
Elderberry Syrup Pinterest Pin

Additional Elderberry Tips:

  • “Ripe, cooked berries of most of the Sambucus species are edible. However, you should not consume raw berries or other parts of the plant since they contain a cyanide-inducing chemical. Eating uncooked berries can result in diarrhea and vomiting. Generally, commercial preparations don’t cause adverse reactions at recommended dosages.
  • Occasionally, elderflowers and elderberries cause allergic reactions. Discontinue use if you have a mild allergic reaction, and seek medical attention if you have a serious allergic reaction.
  • You should not give elderberry products to a child before consulting your pediatrician. If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, don’t take it.
  • If you have an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ask your doctor before taking elderberry because it may stimulate the immune system. If you have any other ongoing health concern, speak with your health care provider before taking it as well. People with organ transplants should not take elderberry.
  • Elderberry appears to have few side effects when used properly for short periods of time (up to five days).
  • If you currently take any of the following medications, you should talk to your health care provider before taking any elder plant products: Diabetes medications; Diuretics (water pills); Chemotherapy; Immune-supressing drugs, including corticosteroids (prednisone), and medications used to treat autoimmune diseases; Laxatives; Theophylline (TheoDur).” (Source)

Other Uses for Elderberries

You can also make elderberry syrup, elderberry jam, and mix the juice with other fruits to make fruit leather.  I also make a few batches of just elderberry juice and honey, leaving out the ginger and cinnamon.  I use this the same as the elixir, but have the option of making jelly or syrup if I want.

Our adventurous morning of picking yielded much more elixir than I anticipated, enough to share and be generous. I enjoyed handing my mama’s heirlooms down to my 7 year old. Gleaning berries and warm memories on a cool fall morning. Memories created as we picked berries, laughing and enjoying the company of my dear husband, watching our buckets fill up as we pulled branches into reach.

It is my greatest desire to share what my mama taught me, how to glean berries, how to use what you have to enrich your life, how to pass down heirlooms worth treasuring…how to share.

Enjoy and be well this winter!

Showing 7 comments
  • Emily @ Recipes to Nourish

    This is great! I love elderberries and this is totally the time of year for us to taking this elixir.

  • linda spiker

    I love elderberry syrup. It’s been a while since I have made any though. Thanks for the recipe and the reminder!

  • The Food Hunter

    I’ve never had an elderberry or seen them for that matter.

  • Carol Little R.H.

    Elderberry medicine is a big part of my winter medicine strategy. I make a similar syrup, plus tincture, infused vinegar and well.. it’s a long list!

  • Shelby @Fitasamamabear

    I love elderberry syrup! It’s amazing for preventing colds. I wish they were more popular in my area 🙁

  • Nicole

    I just purchased dried elderberries and found your recipe. I’m going to be making a big batch and hopefully keep my family healthy this winter! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      Awesome Nicole! Glad you found us and yay for healthy families! 🙂

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