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The 2015 Farmers Almanac
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Elderberry Syrup: A Magic Immunity Elixir?

Elderberry Syrup: A Magic Immunity Elixir?

For centuries, traditional European folk medicine has touted the benefits of elderberry extract for immune support, and now modern science is finally catching up.

Recent studies have found that a commercial preparation of elderberry extract called Sambucol is more effective than other over-the-counter remedies at shortening the duration and severity of the flu.

This comes as no surpise to the many people who swear by elderberry syrup, which is said to boost the immune system, prevent the flu or colds, alleviate excessive mucus and soothe sore throats.

A flowering plant in the honeysuckle family, elderberries are native to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. They are most commonly found in “edge” areas of woods, such as along rivers and roads. In addition to their illness-fighting properties, elderberries are also full of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.

You can buy elderberry extracts at most health food stores, though they can be expensive. To save money, it’s easy to make your own. Here’s a recipe for homemade elderberry syrup.

Elderberry Syrup
1 cup black elderberries
3 cups water
1 cup raw local honey

Place berries and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Crush the berries and strain of the skins. Allow to cool before stirring in honey.

For best results, take one tablespoon daily when you’re well. You can take it on its own, or add it to fruit smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, or maple syrup. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, take a teaspoon every few hours until you recover.

Elderberry syrup is as good for kids as it is for adult, but it’s important to remember never to give products containing raw honey to children under 2.


1 Muriel { 01.19.15 at 6:23 pm }

I’ve never made a syrup with them, but I make a tincture each year: pick over and rinse the berries, then place them in a mason jar and crush slightly (a juice glass that will fit inside the jar is what I use). Cover the berries with hard liquor (rum, brandy, vodka, everclear- you get the idea) and screw down the lid. Let sit in a dark cupboard for 6 weeks or longer. Strain and use as is or add simple syrup to taste if you simply MUST have a good tasting medicine. I use 1 tablespoon every couple of hours at the first sign of symptoms.

It’s my understanding that elderberry ONLY works against the flu, not other viruses. What it does is somehow prevents the virus from replicating, giving your body time to create an antibody and reducing both the time and severity of your illness. I’ve also been told that it doesn’t work as a preventive, so I save my tincture for when I suspect the flu.

2 A A { 01.18.15 at 10:51 pm }

You can use maple syrup instead of the honey for babies.

3 A A { 01.18.15 at 10:50 pm }

You can sub maple syrup for the honey for babies.

4 Carla Mathies { 01.18.15 at 2:21 pm }

If there a recipe for this without the raw honey so that it can be given to children under 2. My grand babies in daycare are having trouble staying well this winter?

5 Melissa Kloiber { 01.18.15 at 10:45 am }

this is in response to Connie Costa. Making your own syrup has two benefits. First is cost. When making your own, you cut the cost of other companies in the middle and second, you know exactly what is in the mix. Many bottles mixes have preservatives and added flavors.
My recipe adds other spices for added immune boosting benefits.
This is my website. There is a recipe and explanations on why each ingredient is added. I have a recipe at the bottom of the page. Bottled mixes are expensive so we put our kits together at cost for SMA families to make at an inexpensive cost. Many families that have children with weakened immune systems use sambucus (elderberry syrup) in their daily regimens.
There is a cost analysis on bottled verses homemade on the page as well.
Dried berries are used in the recipe. If you choose to use fresh berries double the berries and reduce the water by one cup.
It’s never too late to give your immune system a boost.

6 Don Denison { 01.18.15 at 12:36 am }

Dear Friends:

Is the fruit of our native Box Elder edible and appropriate for making of juice, jelly, and cordial? there are many of them growing wild in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. I’m hoping that they can be used and are tasty as well. Please advise.

Sincerely Yours

Don Denison

7 Connie Costa { 01.17.15 at 10:55 pm }

i don’t get it. Why do people make there own syrups, salves and meds when you can buy it? This is 2015, not 1815!

8 Cathy Ploss { 01.17.15 at 9:40 pm }

Image jelly and elderberry cream pie.I’m going to try the syrup this fall as I already have a half gallon or a little more fromm bees the had nested with a queen in my x spruce tree.All I need to do is pick the berries

9 Marci { 01.17.15 at 8:58 pm }

It seems you should post this in July /August so we could plan this better.

10 Shawnee Papincak { 01.17.15 at 8:36 pm }

wonderful memories of picking n make’n jelly w grandma as adult made my own n made some crab apple elderberry great stuff elderberries are I was a berry pick’n kid n adult disabled now from a wreck oh how I miss pick’n n make’n :(

11 christine { 01.17.15 at 8:35 pm }

I give my kiddos a tablespoon each day to prevent colds and flu. It really works! You can buy a pound of dried elderberries on amazon for about $20 and the syrup is super-easy to make. The syrup will last about 90 days stored in the fridge. One batch can pretty much get you through the winter.

12 Patty Tucker { 01.17.15 at 8:03 pm }

i pick my own every year and can the juice, makes the best jelly ever!!

13 GRACE QUINN { 02.06.14 at 1:17 pm }

I am thinking some elderberry mead might be in my future….

14 Jaime McLeod { 02.06.14 at 8:33 am }

Bonnie, for homemade, a few weeks. If you buy it in the store, the package should say.

15 Jaime McLeod { 02.06.14 at 8:28 am }

You can use dried, Diana, but you need twice as many.

16 Iris { 02.05.14 at 7:01 pm }

they grow all over in Missouri

17 Jon B. { 02.05.14 at 6:26 pm }

Use caution and ask questions when ordering your herbs. There are a lot of variables involved in making your own tonic or syrup from herbs. The season they are harvested during. The number of freezes that the berries have gone through. How they were dried. Also, there are a multitude of constituents within the plant. Some are extracted by water, others are extracted by alcohol. Using water only may not extract exactly what you are trying to achieve. There are some good videos on youtube regarding this herb in particular.

18 tricia { 02.05.14 at 5:53 pm }

I buy dried elderberries on Amazon and make a syrup with 1 half cup dried berries soak over night in 2 cups water, bring to a boil and reduce to about 1 and a half cups . strain out the solids and press them with a spoon to get all the good juice. add 1 to 1 and a half cups sugar or honey or combination and bring it back to a simmer till the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has thickened . store in fridge. also I add the syrup to hot or iced tea for a wonderful fruity flavor

19 Annie Pelt { 02.05.14 at 5:39 pm }

I got mine online at Abes.. A lot of places carry them , try google. Try for agood recipe

20 Lynn Foster Turner { 02.05.14 at 4:46 pm }

I would also like to know where I can get elderberries! I am in Southwestern Ontario Canada

21 Diana Clark { 02.05.14 at 12:58 pm }

Can you use dried elderberries in making the syrup, or are the fresh berries required? If the fresh are required, where can I find them? They’re not exactly at the local grocery!

22 bonnie mclen { 02.05.14 at 10:50 am }

regarding elderberry syrup, what it the normal shelf life of the syrup?

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