Winter Wellness: Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Winter Wellness Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Hey there! Back today with an awesome winter wellness recipe for you – Elderberry syrup! Elderberries are renowned for being flu-fighting and full of vitamin C, this recipe turns them into a syrup that you can take by the spoonful to ward off bugs and also as a base for a delicious hot drink that will see you through the winter.

ripe elderberries on elder tree foraging

Elder trees usually grow in scrubland and hedgerow areas, although I am lucky enough to have one in  my garden. I always make sure I don’t harvest too many elderflowers in the spring, so that I can make enough syrup with the berries in the winter! If you don’t happen to have any nearby though, or you decide to make this after the birds have eaten all the berries (!) then you can also buy dried elderberries instead.

These little purple berries can make a lot of mess, in fact they used to be used historically as dye, and you will see why! I’ve been making this for years and am rather a lot neater now, but it used to look like somebody had murdered Clangers in my kitchen!

You can either make this with just sugar (or just honey) but I make it with half sugar mixed with some honey, just to be awkward. The sugar helps to preserve it (if you sterilise your bottles correctly and make it with sugar it will last about a year in the fridge!) but I do also like the added health benefits that honey brings. If you can afford Manuka honey that would be the perfect addition, but I have also recently discovered that Scottish Heather honey has the same bacteria-fighting properties as Manuka and may be cheaper for us in the UK (and certainly has less air miles).

I did actually try to order some Scottish heather honey for this recipe from Amazon, but it decided to sort of ‘explode’ everywhere en route and it was EVERYWHERE inside the envelope! I did lick a bit before I emailed customer services to complain (they refunded me) and it was delicious, so I’m sure it would be excellent in this recipe, but alas I had to use some squeezy stuff from Aldi!
Elderberry Syrup Recipe:
Ingredients:
  • Elderberries
  • Root Ginger
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Cloves
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey (optional)

ingredients for elderberry syrup cloves cinnamon sticks honey root ginger

You will also need something to store it in, I used some glass bottles which I sterilised in the oven – one is one of these flip top ones (also Kilner make a range)  and the other was one I had hoarded that once contained some sort of exciting liqueur from M&S. You will also need some muslin or similar fabric to strain it through, although a sieve may work in a pinch.
There’s quite a lot of steps to this.. sorry! But I do add a cheat’s version at the end if you are feeling super lazy.
Method:
  • First you need to get the elderberries off the stalk. For this I use a fork and gently comb them off the stalk. I have seen recipes where people claim that you must get out EVERY bit of stalk and unripe berry or you’ll be ill, most of which have been American, and I’m not sure if they have a slightly different species of tree over there that is more toxic, but with this honestly a few teeeny bits of stalk and some unripe berries are going to be fine!

removing elderberries with a fork in to a bowl

(I got my daughter to hold the stalk while I took the photo!)

  • Pop the berries in to a pan with enough water to cover them and bring to the boil. Chop up some root ginger and chuck that in along with some cloves and cinnamon sticks to taste. I used two cinnamon sticks and the whole lump of ginger in the ingredients photo. The cloves were shaken in a bit willy-nilly so I can’t really say how many of those there were!
  • Simmer for 10 minutes. Then let the mixture cool for a bit as you’re going to manhandle it next!

pan of simmering elderberries on the hob

  • Pop a muslin or something similar over a bowl and pour the mixture in to it, the liquid will drain in to the bowl and then you need to twist up the muslin and squish out the berry-ness! This is messy and potentially still a bit hot depending on how impatient you are! Once it’s all squeezed through you want to tip it in a jug to see how much you have. I had 350ml.

hand squeezing elderberry juice through the muslin

  • If you are JUST using sugar, then you want to measure out the sugar on a 1:1 ratio, so if you had 350ml you want 350g of sugar. If you are using HALF sugar (like me) then you want half of that amount, so 175g of sugar.
  • Pop your juice and the sugar back in the pan on the hob and heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let it simmer for about another 5-10 mins, just to thicken slightly and then let it cool down again. If you are doing a very small batch it might take less time than this to dissolve and thicken so keep an eye on it!
  • If you are doing the JUST sugar method you can bottle it now.
  • If you are using HALF sugar then you really do need to wait until it has cooled to a luke-warm temperature and then mix the honey in so that the heat doesn’t destroy the beneficial effects. I used 100ml in mine as I didn’t want it to be too sweet, so I would say just add some to taste and then bottle it!

bottles of elderberry syrup with honey cinnamon and ginger

You can store this in the fridge for up to a year. To take it I just dose everyone with one teaspoon a day during winter and then if anyone gets a cold then up the dose to a couple! You can also use it as a cordial by mixing it with warm water to make a hot drink (maybe not boiling water though as I don’t think the honey would appreciate that). Also remember that the advice is not to give honey to babies under 1yr.

Super Easy Cheating Version:
  1. Buy this elderberry juice (it’s 100% elderberry juice)
  2. Mix it with honey
Or you could just take it neat out of the bottle but it is rather tart/bitter (elderberries are high in tannins) so it would be more palatable with the honey (and more like a syrup too). This version doesn’t have the added benefits of the ginger though or the lovely flavours of the cinnamon and cloves, but will still help to fight colds and flu. You can also purchase various pre-made things from the Sambucol range, but they’re quite pricey.

Hope that this helps you and your family stay well during cold & flu season! I’m going to make extra to send to my Mum! ❤


elderberry syrup recipe winter wellness

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