Elderberry syrup is both delicious and incredibly good for you. It is also VERY expensive. 8 fluid ounces on Amazon costs almost $25! This is why we make it from scratch every year, and you can too. Read on to find out why elderberries are so magical, how to grow your own and how to craft the super health elixir that is elderberry syrup.
Elderberries (when cooked) are incredibly good for you (raw they are toxic). They are high in antioxidants, studies have show that they support your immune system, help regulate blood sugar, and are have anti-inflammatory properties. Mix them with local, organic honey and you have a super food double whammy that will also help with seasonal allergies! I take a teaspoon a day when I'm feel good and 3 teaspoons a day when I'm feel crummy. I put it in tea for my kids during cold and flu season at school and get even get my husband to do a shot when he starts to complain of the infamous man-cold.
Grow Your Own Elderberries
The first step to making your own elderberry syrup for a low cost is to grow your own. Elderberries are incredibly easy to grow, come back every year, and because they are toxic when uncooked, most birds leave them alone! We planted 3 elderberry bushes three years ago and this year I harvested over 15 cups of berries - that's enough for 12 of those $25 bottles of elderberry syrup and MINE is made with local, organic honey while theirs is made with some random carrier syrup. We are in zone 5a and my elderberries overwinter just fine with our deep freezes. All you need know is that buying different varieties of elderberry bushes will help promote cross pollination and berry production. You can buy bushes here. I'm pretty sure we have two Adams, and one Johns. In the spring the pretty white flowers are fragrant and can be gathered for making elderberry flower water, a popular beverage in Denmark.
4 cups dried elderberries of 8 cups fresh
3 inch piece of ginger
2 cinnamon sticks or cinnamon powder
cloves, star anise (optional)
8 oz honey
Making the Syrup
Gather elderberries or purchase dried berries.
Simmer - for fresh elderberries simmer 8 cups of berries with one cup of water, for dried berries use 4 cups of berries and 8 cups of water. Simmer for around 40 minutes - its not an exact science.
Add some goodies to the mix: 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger, 2 sticks or 2 teaspoons cinnamon, a few cloves, 2-3 star anise. This is all optional but I highly recommend the cinnamon and ginger if you have them.
Smoosh - Use a potato masher or wooden spool to smoosh the berries until as much juice as possible has been removed.
Strain - use a silver mesh strainer or cheese cloth to remove the pulp and squeeze as much juice out of the berries as possible.
Reduce - simmer the liquid for another 40 minutes or so to reduce the liquid.
Add equal parts honey to the strained juice.
Bottle and enjoy. Refrigerated syrup should last up to 3 months in the fridge or a year frozen. You can also add a quarter cup vodka to the simmering recipe as an extra preservative - but then it might not be kid friendly though I'm pretty sure the alcohol all cooks off.
To Your Health
Here is hoping you have fun making this delicious syrup, it works well in hot water or taken alone as a shot or even on pancakes in place of maple syrup. Plus, making it totally give you green witch vibes or get your Harry Potter on and brew up some of this fantastic fuchsia potion.
Want more info on elderberries? Check out this fantastic blog: the woman is an inspiration.