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Looking for Immune Support? Try Making Your Own Elderberry Syrup!

Hi there! Let me introduce you to my elderberry plant (Sambucus nigra), and describe how I made fresh elderberry syrup to use this upcoming fall and winter to help keep me and my family healthy.

I know there are lots of recipes for elderberry syrup available, but many pertain to using dried berries. And even if there are a lot out there, this is my version.

I got this elder plant as a small plant about 15 years ago from a Green Pharmacy plant sale. Green Pharmacy is the amazing medicinal herb garden of renowned herbalist Jim Duke, who passed away in 2017. As you can see, it is more of a tree now than a small plant.

I had been watching closely to see if my elder would produce berries this year. For the past few years, it would flower spectacularly, but no fruit would develop. And oh boy, did it fruit this year!

I waited until the berries were dark purplish-black, and then I prepared to harvest. I got my kitchen scissors, a paper bag, and a ladder. I went to the tree and I asked for permission to harvest some of the berries so that I could make a syrup to keep my family healthy this year. I thanked the plant for providing for me in this way. I waited a moment, and then I started to harvest.

It is important to remove the stems from the berries, but it can be hard to do when the berries are freshly picked. To make it easier, I put them on pans and put them in the freezer. When frozen, the berries come off the stems more easily and without getting crushed.

Once I had my berries de-stemmed, it was time to make syrup!

I used a basic recipe that called for 1 cup of fresh berries to 1 cup of water. If using dried berries, the ratio would be 1 cup of berries to 2 cups of water. People often add a cinnamon stick and ginger too. I chose to just add cinnamon to this batch.

  1. Bring berries and water to a boil, using a non-reactive pot, such as enamel. Add cinnamon and ginger if using. I used 4 cups of berries, 4 cups of water, and 1 cinnamon stick.

  2. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Let sit for 30 minutes.

  4. Strain into a jar large enough for all the liquid, using a clothe to make sure no berries get through. I used a large measuring cup and an old clean t-shirt.

  5. Squeeze the clothe to get all the liquid out.

  6. Measure the elderberry liquid and add an equal amount of honey.

  7. Put in jars and keep refrigerated. Don't forget to label them!

So much has been written about the medicinal uses of elder. Here is a short description that I like from Gaia Herbs. And here is a video of Dr. Tieraona Low Dog making elderberry syrup from dried elderberries that I watched before making my own.

About me:

My name is Jillian Bar-av and I am a registered herbalist and licensed nutritionist who works with busy women to help them have the energy to do what they love. I specialize in conditions that affect the reproductive system and urinary tract, such as PCOS and Interstitial Cystitis. I believe that it takes healthy people to create a healthy planet, and I want to make a difference for both.

For more information or to book an appointment, contact:

And, If you want to hear more from me, sign up for my newletter.


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