While winter is nearing an end (yes!) and cold and flu season is largely a thing of the past, the unfortunate warm weather illness or summer cold is still possible, and elderberry syrup is a great addition to your germ fighting natural arsenal. Elderberries themselves are high in vitamins, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and have been shown to both prevent flu and speed recovery from illness. The other ingredients pack a powerful punch as well, making this syrup a star for immunity boosting.
Back when I was in high school, my mother started buying Sambucol syrup, a commercially available elderberry syrup. It recommends daily maintenance dosage, and more intensive dosage when you are actually suffering from a cold or the flu. It’s a thick, sweet syrup that did seem to help. As an adult, I’d buy it periodically, but at $12.99 for a 4 ounce bottle that goes pretty quickly, I decided to try making it myself. It’s a simple recipe that yields a good result; me, my husband and Little Miss all use it.
To give you an idea of the cost of making your own elderberry syrup for comparison, the only expensive part is dried elderberries – and by expensive I mean I’ve found them online for about $4.75 for 4 ounces (at Mountain Rose Herbs), and you’ll need 1-2 ounces per batch. Also check local health food stores that carry bulk herbs. Then you’ll need water, honey, and some spices. It works out quite inexpensive all told, with a batch yielding about 16 ounces.
I’m just going to get this out of the way here, if you’re a certain type of person, the word “elderberry” probably brings one thing to mind. The French Taunter. So I’m just going to put it out there, while your mother is likely not a hamster, if you make this syrup, your house will smell like elderberries.
About the ingredients
Any of the spices in this recipe can be left out if you prefer, but they do all serve a purpose. Let’s take a look at why this homemade elderberry syrup is such an illness fighting, immunity boosting powerhouse. All of these ingredients have a myriad of uses and health benefits, but I’m going to give a brief summary of the specifics that are relevant to this preparation.
- Elderberries – They are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory and boost the immune system. They can help sooth a sore throat and help coughs be more productive.
- Raw honey – Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory as well as being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Consuming local honey can help sooth seasonal allergies as well, so I order New York honey rather than purchasing whatever is on the shelf at the store.
- Cinnamon – Packed with anti-oxidants, cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and helps fight bacterial and viral illnesses.
- Ginger – Ginger reduces inflammation, increases circulation and inhibits the growth of many bacteria.
- Clove – Antibacterial, and a great immune system booster, encouraging production of germ fighting white blood cells.
A quick Google search will turn up a number of recipes, but this is the one I use. You can use dried spices or whole spices; I often use both because I have them on hand.
An important note – elderberries are dark purple and can stain! I use my silicone spoon and rinse it after each stir (you only stir rarely). I do this in my white non-stick pot and it does not stain, but I’m still not taking chances with my beloved wooden spoons.
Homemade Immunity Boosting Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 3/4 cup dried elderberries
- 3 1/2 cups of water
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder, and/or 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tbsp dried ginger root (or use a few slices of fresh ginger)
- 1/2 tsp dried clove powder (or whole cloves)
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- Pour your water into a medium pot/saucepan with elderberries, cinnamon, ginger and clove (dried or whole). Bring to a boil and give it a quick stir, then cover and reduce to low simmer for 30-45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by roughly half.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to a manageable temperature, then pour through a wire strainer into a glass bowl. Discard elderberries and whole herbs.
- When the liquid is still somewhat warm but not hot, add in your honey (you don’t want the heat to kill off the beneficial stuff in the honey) and mix well.
- Pour into a glass bottle (I use a mason jar) and refrigerate for up to several months. Take a spoonful every day for maintenance and an immune system boost, or take twice a day when you’re feeling unwell.
That’s all! It’s inexpensive and simple, and doesn’t take that long. And I’m not going to lie, this elderberry syrup tastes pretty good! If you wanted to drizzle it over vanilla ice cream just for the sake of it, I’m not going to say not to.
Note: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Do your own research and as always, use your best judgement.