Elderberry Syrup (11th hour gift!)

Happy Winter Solstice! The countdown to Christmas, or Yule has begun in earnest.   I like to gift my close neighbors with something I have made during the holidays. Some years I give munchie food gifts such as spiced, glazed nuts or cookies, but as I was pondering what I had on hand I remembered I still had Elderberries in the freezer, bail wire bottles and several Elderberry booklets I had ordered for them last fall. If you have dried Elderberries in your pantry, or branches in your freezer, please read on. There is still time!

Dried Elderberries make a great syrup, and require less equipment. I use dried berries and the following ingredients ratio from Tina at The Essential Herbal when I make dried berry syrup.

Syrup From Dried Elderberries:

1 cup dried Elderberries

3 cups distilled water

1 1/2 cup Honey (approximate) OR twice as much granulated sugar as there is liquid

Place dried berries and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Cool, then pour through a fine mesh strainer, pressing firmly with large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. More liquid can be strained from the berry mash by placing it in a clean towel, old t-shirt or cheesecloth and giving it a good squeeze.

If using honey: Return the juice to the saucepan and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Cool slightly, and stir in honey.

If using granulated sugar:

Measure the remaining liquid, and stir in twice as much sugar as there is liquid. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and boil for 3-5 minutes.

Refrigerate the Elderberry syrup, or, freeze the extracted juice and make the syrup later!

If you love Elderberries like I do, consider ordering A Gathering Of Elders from The Essential Herbal online. It is a wonderful little booklet and my favorite go-to for every imaginable Elderberry recipe and folklore.

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Today we are making Elderberry Syrup from frozen native western Mexicana Blue Elderberries we gathered last fall. Any of the blue or black Elderberries are edible when cooked. (There is an Elder variety with red berries, but they are toxic. Leave them be!)

Our native Elderberries have a thin white coating on them, similar to grape must, which disappears with advanced ripening or water. They are a deep blue-black color under the coating. I make fresh syrup every fall, and inevitably there are a couple bags more than I need, so, I throw them in the freezer, branches and all. My fresh Elderberry syrup recipe also originated from An Elder Gathering.

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The berries are easier to remove from the stems when they are frozen. Some people use forks or cake combs, but I find they literally fall off the stems if I rub them between my thumb and forefinger. Submerge the berries in water, rinse them well, and drain them in a colander before placing them in a deep kettle. Add only about 1 cup of distilled water to the kettle of berries, because they are incredibly juicy and you don’t want to overly dilute their goodness. Bring the berries to a boil, mashing them with a potato masher now and then. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.

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You may notice a few tiny leaves or stems, or maybe a green berry or two in the first photo of the kettle. I pick as many as possible out of the kettle, when I see them, and don’t worry about the rest.

After boiling and simmering the kettle, remove the lid and allow the berries to cool to room temp. We use a food mill to separate the juice from the berries. If you don’t own a food mill, whatever you use for making applesauce will work fine. I used one of those old fashioned cone sieves for many years. Use a clean towel or an old t-shirt to squeeze the juice out, or press through a wire mesh strainer with a large spoon.

Next, strain or press the juice from the berries into a container with measuring marks. Add 2 cups of sugar to each cup of juice to the kettle. Stir to start dissolving the sugar, and let the kettle sit for about 10 minutes. You’ll notice that the color of the berries and juice in the kettle has changed to a beautiful purple or Burgundy color.

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Bring the syrup with dissolved sugar to a boil, and boil for 3-5 minutes.

Using a funnel, fill sterilized bail-wire bottles with the syrup to within 1 inch from the top. Close the lids, and allow to cool.

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Refrigerate and enjoy! Evidence suggests Elderberry syrup enhances your immune response to flu viruses and colds. Beyond that, it is great on ice cream and in teas. Even children love it. Stay healthy this winter!



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I enjoy learning about and growing medicinal and culinary herbs, making herbal soaps, salves, tinctures, syrups and my own herbal tea blends. A lifelong interest in dreaming led me to a 4 year, formal, Jungian Analysis. I’ve studied spirit, mediumship and spent a lot of time on self-development for over 40 years. I’m still so amazed at the symmetry and sparkling intelligence of the universe.

21 thoughts on “Elderberry Syrup (11th hour gift!)”

  1. I love elderberry products! 💕

    Unfortunately I didn’t get enough this year because of extremely dry summer. The berries became dry before ripening 😞

    I’ve been surprised you did use distilled water. In my country you can get distilled water for technical use only, no way to drink it. So I’m using common water in my syrups instead. So far, so good 👍

    1. Wow, that is interesting about the distilled water. We have a well, with hard water and lots of minerals. It tastes wonderful! But it clouds the liquids in-home canned items. So I use the distilled water for that purpose.

      We can buy gallons of distilled water here at the supermarket, 98 cents each, as many as we want.

      So sorry about your elderberries! That happened to my Hawthorne berries one year. Hope you have extra berries next year!

    1. I am pretty sure you have them, but they are hard to spot at first. The best time to see them is when they come into bloom in the spring. They kind of look like oversized hydrangeas with flat white flower umbels. Look for them near rivers or springs.

      1. Thanks and I’ll ask the Indigenous woman who did the forest walk last year. She’ll know for sure. Do you have any recommendations of good kitchen witch books? I see several on amazon, but I’m not sure what’s good and practical for my part of the world. Many are from the UK.

      2. Ok, the following books are my favorite go-to’s out of maybe 40 or 50. 😊

        The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook by James Green (fabulous book! Well written, entertaining, has recipes, formulas, the works)

        Earthly Bodies And Heavenly Hair by Dina Falconi (also fabulous)

        Herbal Treasures by Phyllis Shandy (many great herbal craft projects)

        Bee’swax Workshop by Chris Dalzial

        Beeswax Alchemy by Petra Ahnert

        The Scented Room by Barbara Milo Ohrbach

        And there are many more on aromatherapy, soapmaking, etc., if you are interested in those let me know. But I use the above books more than any others. 😃

      3. Oh thank you. I’ll have a good look for these! It’s always good to have a recommendation from someone with experience that knows what they’re doing. Are you going to make a book someday yourself?

      4. You’re welcome! I am not an “Herbalist”, but have a few friends who are. I have learned a lot from books and those friends over the past 18 years. Enough to grow many herbs and make herbal salves, teas, tinctures, etc for family. It is fascinating and better still, herbs WORK for most day to day stuff. 😃. There are a couple great books coming out in January on Amazon that two of my herbalist friends wrote. I just got the digital copy review for each but haven’t had time to review them. After I do, I will send you my synopsis of them. Both ladies are amazing Herbalists so I know I am going to want their books on my shelf.

      5. Oh fantastic! I’d love to share your reviews on my website too.

        I’ve always grown and cooked with herbs. I just love them. What got me thinking more deeply is a book I’m reading right now called “The Witch’s Daughter” by Paula Brackston. She’s a hedge witch. And I’m writing a new character that is a midwife and healer. All so inspiring!

        I have a friend who makes soap and lip gloss, etc so I’m going to ask her to tutor me. It’s great to have that first-hand experiential learning.

      6. There’s nothing better than hands on tutoring from a buddy, either. You are going to have so much fun!

        I, too, loved the book, The Witches Daughter. I can’t wait to read your new book on a midwife-healer, either. I am going to order Ghost Light after the holidays when the cash is flowing again, LOL. Happy Yule to you and yours 🌲☃️❄️

      7. Thank you for the support. Ghost Light is the one I’m just writing now with the midwife character, so it will a while before it’s out. You can download the ebook of To Charm a Killer for free! It’s the first in the Wicca trilogy.

        Wishing you and your family a wonderful Yule. I hope your shoulder is fully healed! Have a fabulous celebration!

      8. Oh! And a great herbal primer to start getting your feet wet is Healing Herbs, by Tina Sams, owner of The Essential Herbal. 😊. That would probably be the best one to start with.

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