Updated: Apr 12
It seems like we aren't the only ones still sniffling our way through these sunny, pre-spring days. I've been wanting to share how to make your own elderberry syrup for a long time, but I had this grand idea to do a video and have nice photos... but my kids are always in the kitchen with me and it's not always clean and I'm usually in my bathrobe and don't often bother to comb my hair. So you're getting a blog post instead!
I'm going to keep this super simple, because that's the way it should be. A few things first:
1. I don't actually know anything about the science behind elderberry syrup. My naturopath (and many other people who I trust) recommend it for immune support, so we take it. Whether or not it works, I personally couldn't tell you, but many others rave about it! A quick internet search will bring up all kinds of resources for you.
2. Though the "dosage" recommended is often either "1tsp a day" (for prevention) or "1 tablespoon a few times a day" (for when you're sick), it doesn't work super well for my kiddos to take it from a spoon. We pour it into small glasses (essentially shot glasses), and they love it and it feels special.
3. You can really play around with this recipe and customize it to your preferences. In fact, this isn't really a recipe so much as general guidelines.
4. We have used our elderberry syrup on pancakes before and it is fun and tasty. Sometimes our syrup turns out a little too liquidy for this though.
Here is how I made elderberry syrup this week:
1 cup dried elderberries*
2 cinnamon sticks*
2 tablespoons dried ginger root*
2 tablespoons dried orange peel*
1 tablespoon whole cloves*
4 cups of water
1 cup of liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey etc.)
*Dry ingredients are available in bulk at Scoop (come visit us!) and the maple syrup can be purchased in a returnable container through our Scoop Shares program.
1. Pour all dry ingredients into a pot and add water.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
3. Partially cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes, or until reduced by about half (you don't have to be super precise here).
4. Pour through a strainer into a bowl (do not throw the solids away!).
5. Wait for the liquid to cool, then mix with sweetener and store it in a cute, reused bottle in your fridge. General recommendation, I would suggest using it within a month, but I don't actually know the rules on this one.
As far as I understand, the main reason to wait for it to cool is if you are using honey, because if you add the hot liquid to the honey then you will destroy it's medicinal properties. I don't think it really matters if you mix it when it is hot if you are using maple syrup, but I am just in the habit of waiting.
NO FOOD WASTE
Okay, here's the part where my eco anxiety kicks in a little. I just can't bring myself to dump all of those used elderberries and spices into the compost. I feel like there is still so much goodness in them!
So I started resteeping them. I put them back into the pot, cover them with water, and simmer for a while. Sometimes, I let it reduce way down and go ahead and add that to the syrup, because it seems really concentrated.
If it doesn't seem concentrated enough, then I save it in a bottle and use it to make tea throughout the week.
I usually steep the berries & spices TWICE after making the syrup.
1. Spices and berries into pot with 4 cups of water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, strain, cool, add to sweetener, enjoy as syrup.
2. Add solids back to pot and cover with water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, strain, and add to a bottle to reheat for tea.
3. Repeat step 3.
I don't know if this is just way over the top, but it's the best way for me to feel like I have pulled every last bit of goodness out of the ingredients.
Do you happen to have an idea of how to use the leftover berries & spices after using them to make syrup? I would be so curious to hear!
As I mentioned, you can customize this as much as you want! I made this recipe from my naturopath last year, and I liked the suggestions of things to add for extra health benefits. Unfortunately, my kids weren't a fan of the chagga mushroom powder.
For a fun gift idea, check out this blog post to see a DIY elderberry syrup mix that I packaged in a reused mason jar.