Support your immune system this winter with this tasty and health-boosting homemade elderberry syrup recipe!
Although elderberry has been used as a natural remedy for hundreds of years, in recent years, it has come into the mainstream as a scientifically proven immune booster and modern health elixir. You can find elderberry lozenges, pills, syrups, and more – and not just in health food stores. Many mainstream grocery stores carry them as well. However, as with most trendy health foods, they usually come with a hefty price tag.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to make your own health-boosting remedies using elderberry. Both the flowers and the fruit can be used in various tinctures, teas, tinctures, and more.
The elderberry syrup recipe below describes how to make your own homemade immune-boosting elderberry syrup. This can be used to prevent colds and flu and boost your immune system. It is also quite tasty, so you can enjoy it as a special treat over ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, and more!
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Total Time: About 1 hour (more if using the jelly bag method below)
Makes: 3 pints
3 lbs fresh ripe elderberries, destemmed (about one-half a paper grocery bag full, before destemming)
3 cups raw honey (or 4 cups sugar, but I prefer honey for the additional health benefits)
- Sterilize your jars in boiling water, and use new, clean and scalded canning lids.
- You will need to remove the berries from the stems; elderberry stems are toxic. (here are some tricks on destemming elderberries.) It should take you about 45 minutes to an hour to destem 3 pounds of elderberries.
- At this point, you can empty your berries into a large bowl of ice water, and swirl around with your hands. Weird debris will float, like dead flower husks, bugs, etc. Pour this off.
- Pour the elderberries into a large pot and either mash them thoroughly with a potato masher or, better yet, with an immersion blender. Only break up the berries for a few seconds using the immersion blender, and use it on low setting. You don’t want to grind up the seeds, which are bitter.
- Bring the elderberries to a boil, stirring often. Now, if you are using a food mill, set it up with its finest plate and pour the elderberries into it. Run the food mill until the mash is pretty dry, then squeeze out any remaining elderberry juice. You should have a little more than 1 quart. Pour the juice through your finest mesh sieve to catch any stray seeds or pulp.
- If you don’t have a food mill, you can use a jelly bag. In this case, mash the berries again after they’ve boiled, then pour them into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl. Let this drain for 1 to 2 hours. You should have a little less than 1 quart. You don’t need to strain the juice the way you do with the food mill method.
- Return the juice to the (cleaned) pot and add an equal volume of sugar, normally about 4 cups (if using). Bring to a boil until it froths, skim the froth, then turn off the heat and pour into clean jars. *(If using honey, add honey AFTER removing from heat and cooling slightly, to avoid killing the beneficial enzymes in the raw honey.) Always use a new canning lid when you are making this syrup unless you plan on eating it in the next few weeks. Seal the jars and let stand until the lids pop. They will keep for up to a year in the fridge.
- If you wish to store them on the shelf, place the clean, hot, filled jars (leave 1/2″ of head space before sealing) immediately into a boiling water bath 1 inch over the top of the jars, and process for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool completely (make sure lids are sealed), and then store in a dark place for 1 year or more (refrigerate after opening).
To use the syrup for immune-boosting purposes, take one teaspoon 1-2 times per day during cold and flu season. If you feel an illness coming on, take 3 tsp (1 TB) 4 times per day until you feel better. (Do NOT give the honey version to young children who are not yet allowed to have raw honey.)