This is really just an update on my process rather than a recipe or a good how to because I’m a total novice!
But if you want my elderberry process this is it!
In the past I’ve bought elderberry syrup both in the states and in the UK via Abel and Cole and here’s my take: I don’t know if it’s changed our lives. People SWEAR by the goodness in this stuff, but we’re a family who doesn’t get sick a lot pre and post taking elderberry so I don’t have a good personal test. For that reason I’ve never paid for us all to take it daily cos I’d rather put that money into good food and I can’t do both.
I have had it for when one of us starts feeling something and then we load up. Jared especially has those moments every winter and what he does over the next 24 hours radically changes how his body does. He takes elderberry, cuts sugar, cuts dairy, drinks a lot of water, goes easy on caffeine and eats a lot of fruit and veg. He usually doesn’t then get sick. So I don’t think it’s just the elderberry but even if the placebo helps I’ll pay a bit for that!
But now we’re surrounded by elderberry trees.
And if I can make my own syrup basically FREE, then yes, we’ll take it more often.
Most people who make DIY syrup buy dried berries
There are many great recipes around the internet for making elderberry syrup. I didn’t use any of them and didn’t buy dried berries but the place I see a lot of people get them is:
There are also a lot of other brands I have no experience with so both of these link to many options, obviously I’d choose one more local and one that’s organic.
- American options on Amazon HERE
- UK options on Amazon HERE
Be careful on processing
I speak as someone who has eaten too many bitter almonds and landed myself under observation hooked up to a lot of machines after barely being able to walk into the hospital. The good news is the dangerous compounds in elderberries cook out relatively easily so processed right with the right research I don’t think they pose the threat you might think after reading ‘cyanide.’
“There are 3 mg of cyanide per 100 grams of fresh berries and 3–17 mg per 100 grams of fresh leaves. This is just 3% of the estimated fatal dose for a 130-pound (60-kg) person” Read the full article HERE it’s a helpful one for an overview on elderberries.
6-8 cups berries
1 cup raw local honey
1 inch fresh ginger
2T apple cider vinegar
It takes a lot of berries to make syrup. I made 3 of the jars in the photo with a large mixing bowl (6-8 cups) of berries.
The berries are small and messy so after reading I could freeze them still on the stems I tried that. Then I put them in a big brown bag a la fried chicken and shook them. Most of the berries came off into the bottom of the bag, I scooped them out into a mixing bowl and did it again. At the end I combed through the stalks and took off most of the remaining berries with my fingers (a fork also works well.) I freaked out a bit having tiny bits of the stalks in the mix but it’s almost impossible not to. I picked out what I could but a few little pieces did go into the saucepan. I strained everything out twice over at the end.
With all the berries in a saucepan I added a splash of water and a grated inch long chunk of ginger and brought them to a good simmer over a medium heat. Heating seems to be a balance of heating them to lose the toxicity vs heating them too much and losing some of the goodness. At least on my first round I was more into over simmering them 😉 So they probably got 20 minutes of simmering and reducing. When they’d simmered and reduced by half I strained them, pushing all of the juice out with a spoon. After they cooled a bit I strained again.
Then I stirred in the honey and the apple cider vinegar while the syrup was warm but not hot and stirred it periodically while it cooled.
I poured one jar full and put it in the fridge to use now in the “back to school zone” with a teaspoon a day. The rest I froze in ice cube trays (Like THIS UK/THIS US) and then transferred to Stasher bags to store for the winter. If I collect any more elderberries I’ll just de-stem them and store the unprocessed berries frozen for ease and make another batch later in the year.