Elderberry syrup

Every winter I make a batch of home-made elderberry syrup. I’m going to share this easy to make remedy using dried elderberries- but you can use fresh berries if you’ve been organised enough to pick your own! It’s now the time of year again where we need to prepare ourselves against the winter ‘lurgy’. Prevention is best, and I make this syrup for myself and my family to strengthen our defenses in order to protect against succumbing to the cold and ‘flu virus.

These small, purple-black berries found growing in bunches on elder trees (Sambucus nigra), are high in whole food vitamin C and anti-oxidant rich flavonoids that have been shown to strengthen immune function and promote faster recovery from the cold and ‘flu virus. The berries are also powerful diaphoretics; by inducing sweating, they reduce fevers. According to a 2004 study,‘flu symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.

My homemade recipe also uses the herbs cloves, ginger and cinnamon for an added immune boost. I do also add raw honey for its potent anti-viral properties. I recommend 1 tbsp daily for adults/ 1 tsp for little ones over the winter months, or 3 x daily if a cold or flu does strike.


  • 100g dried black elderberries (I order mine online from here, but you can pick your own in season!)
  • 850ml of filtered water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 6 dried cloves
  • 2-3 tablespoons of raw honey (I get from my farmer’s market or local health food shop)


  1. Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves to a medium size pan and cover with water (do not add honey yet as heating over 25 degrees centigrade will destroy the beneficial enzymes and dilute the medicinal properties in the raw honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool until warm. Pour through a strainer, mashing the berries to extract all the liquid into a glass jar or bowl.
  3.  Discard or compost the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 2-3 tbsps of honey (or more to taste) and stir in well. (I’ve also used steviadrops to sweeten- a preferred option if avoiding sugar).
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a glass jar or bottle of some kind.
  5. Store your elderberry syrup in the fridge- mine usually lasts through the winter months without spoiling. Take daily for its immune boosting properties.


Zakay-Rones, Z et.al (2004) Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections.
Gladstar, R (2008) Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health.