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Elderberry Syrup Recipe to Boost Your Immunity

Using an elderberry syrup recipe to boost your immunity can help keep you healthy this winter. After all, ‘tis the season for coughing, sneezing and feeling icky. It’s hardly a surprise that so many people are falling ill. After more than two years of isolating, masking, and basically suppressing our immune systems, it seems like the smallest bug can turn into a weeks-long battle to recover your health.

There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that can ease your suffering. If you prefer an all-natural solution instead, turning to elderberry can get the results you seek.

In this blog we’ll learn:

elderberry syrup recipe
Elderberry syrup is easy to make and can last for up to a year when stored correctly.

What is elderberry syrup?

To make elderberry syrup, you first need to get your hands on the berries that grow on the Sambucus tree. Native to Europe, the Sambucus tree produces sour-tasting berries that have been a staple of folk medicine recipes for thousands of years. People also enjoy elderberries in jams, jellies, pies, and other baked goods.

If you’ve wandered down the medicine aisle of any pharmacy or store lately, you’ve probably noticed the over-the-counter cough syrups and other cold and flu remedies that feature this powerful berry. Just one cup of elderberries contains about 58% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C – more than you get from eating an orange.

How does elderberry syrup boost immunity?

Elderberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with antioxidants. It’s no wonder these amazing berries can help support a healthy immune system.

Scientific studies have proven what natural health practitioners have known for centuries: elderberries can boost immunity and improve cold and flu symptoms.

Some of the supporting evidence includes:

  • A 2004 study of 60 people with the flu who took 15 mL of elderberry syrup 4 times daily. Within 2 to 4 days, they showed improvement in their flu symptoms. The group of participants not using elderberry syrup took roughly 8 days to feel better.
  • A separate study of 312 air travelers supported the immune-boosting powers of elderberry. The participants took 300 mg of elderberry extract 3 times a day. Doing so shortened the length of any illnesses they contracted while flying and lessened severe symptoms.

You can buy many commercially produced health products that contain elderberries. The problem is some of these elixirs may include additives and other unhealthy components. Making your own elderberry syrup to boost your immunity ensures you know what ingredients it contains.

elderberry syrup heart health
Consuming elderberry syrup or other forms of elderberries can improve your heart health.

What are the other health benefits of elderberry syrup?

Elderberry syrup doesn’t just boost your immunity. There are other health benefits associated with consuming these tart berries in any form. Here are some of the ways including elderberry in your diet can help.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Anthocyanin is the element that gives elderberries their characteristic dark purple color. Did you know that anthocyanin is a natural anti-inflammatory antioxidant? It works by reducing the damage that oxidative stress causes when free radicals metabolize in your body. Free radicals are known to cause inflammation. Combating them can be as simple (and tasty) as consuming elderberries.

Cancer inhibitor

Studies have concluded that American and European varieties of elderberries have some cancer-inhibiting properties during test-tube studies. The high levels of anthocyanins and other nutrients may play a role in its ability to fight cancer.

Constipation

Elderberries are high in dietary fiber, making them an effective natural laxative. Just one cup of fresh elderberries contains 10 grams of fiber. That’s roughly 36% of the daily recommended value. If regularity is an issue for you, adding an elderberry syrup to your daily health routine can help.

Heart health

Some studies have shown promising results in the effects of elderberry on markers of the blood vessels and heart health. Drinking elderberry juice or consuming elderberry syrup can reduce the level of fat in the blood and decrease cholesterol levels. Because elderberries are high in anthocyanins and flavonoids, they may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease.

What are the side effects of elderberry syrup?

Most of the risk associated with elderberries comes from their raw form. The bark, seeds, and unripe berries produced by the Sambucus tree contain small amounts of lectins, which can cause stomach upset if you eat too much.

Elderberry plants also have cyanogenic glycosides that can release a toxin called cyanide under certain conditions. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The best way to prevent cyanide poisoning from elderberries is to cook them.

Even if you prepare it correctly, some people can be sensitive to elderberry syrup and other elderberry consumables. Usually, if elderberry doesn’t agree with you, it causes an upset stomach and other digestive issues like diarrhea.

elderberry syrup tea
There are other ways to enjoy the benefits of elderberries, including by drinking elderberry tea.

Are there other ways to consume elderberries?

Turning elderberries into syrup to boost immunity is one of the most popular ways you can consume it because it’s easy to swallow. Other ways to get the benefits of elderberries include:

  • Gummies. Many commercial supplement brands have a version of elderberry gummies. You can make your own at home if you prefer gummies over syrup.  
  • Lozenges. Often combined with zinc, elderberry lozenges can be found in most places where you buy commercial cold and flu remedies.
  • Teas. Elderberry can be combined with lemon balm for a tasty tea if you prefer sipping your way to boosting your immune system.

Where can you buy elderberries?

If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country where you can find elderberries at your local farmer’s market or another food store, you’re all set. Many health food stores carry dried elderberries. Ordering elderberries in bulk online is another option if you can’t locally source them.

A caveat if you decide to buy online: get them early! When fall and winter roll around, elderberries can be scarce to find, even online. People stock up on them because they know they work wonders for boosting the immune system and fighting the common cold and flu.

How long does homemade elderberry syrup last?

When canning elderberry syrup, you can expect the finished product to last for up to a year. It’s crucial to follow proper canning and storage protocol if you want to get the most out of your homemade elderberry syrup for boosting your immune system.

Once you open a jar of elderberry syrup, it should be refrigerated. There, it can last for up to 2 months. Monitor any refrigerated elderberry syrup for signs of mold. If you find any, throw it out immediately. Consuming moldy elderberry syrup can make you sick.

elderberry syrup recipe canned
Canning your elderberry syrup can extend its shelf life.

What’s the easiest elderberry syrup recipe?

A classic elderberry syrup recipe for boosting your immune system that we like requires just 5 ingredients to make.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 2 cups dried elderberries (organic preferred)
  • 4 cups cold water (distilled or purified)
  • 2-3 tsp. dried ginger root (organic preferred)
  • 1 sweet cinnamon stick (organic preferred)
  • 1 cup raw, local honey (can substitute with maple syrup).

Optionally, you can add in 1 cup of vodka or brandy to increase the shelf life of your elderberry syrup.

How to make it:

  • Combine your berries and herbs with the cold water in a pot and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to steep for 1 hour.
  • Strain berries and herbs using a funnel and cheesecloth or a cotton muslin bag to squeeze out the liquid. Discard the used herbs.
  • Allow to cool to just above room temperature, then add in honey and stir.
  • Bottle in sterilized glass jars and store in your storeroom or the refrigerator.

Elderberry syrup gummies

If you’re one of those people who prefers gummies over liquid, you can use this recipe to make some at home. Young children also may take an elderberry gummy before they swallow a liquid.

Take some of the elderberry liquid you made using the recipe above. You can use it to make the gummies by following these instructions.

Ingredients you’ll need for the gummies:

  • 1 cup elderberry syrup
  • ¼ cup gelatin
  • 2/3 cup hot filtered water (not boiling)
  • Silicone gummy molds

How to make it:

  • Put the silicone gummy molds on a baking sheet for support.
  • Mix ¼ cup elderberry syrup and gelatin in a small bowl. Whisk until gelatin dissolves.
  • Add in the hot water and stir well.
  • Stir in the remaining elderberry syrup.
  • Pour the mixture into the molds.
  • Refrigerate for one hour.
  • Remove the gummies from the molds and store them in an airtight glass container with a lid.

These gummies keep for about 2 months when stored in the refrigerator. The dosage is 1-3 gummies per day for children 2 and over.

Enjoying our homestead recipes? Check out our raw milk recipes page and other homesteading tips. We’d love to hear about your experiences with these elderberry syrup recipes in the comments.

Sources

  1. A comparative evaluation of the anticancer properties of European and American elderberry fruits. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  2. A systemic review on the sambuci fructus effect and efficacy profiles. onlinelibrary.wiley.com. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  3. Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review. sciencedirect.com. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  4. Anthocyanins: natural colorants with health-promoting properties. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  5. Assessment report on Sambucus nigra L., fructus. europa.eu. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  6. Cyanogenic Glycoside Analysis in American Elderberry. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  7. Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels. fda.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  8. Elderberries, raw. fdc.nal.usda.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  9. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.
  10. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed December 28, 2022.

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Kelsey
Hi there! I’m Kelsey! I am a wife, a mother and homesteader. I’m also a Certified Natural Health Practitioner so health is very important to me. I love to help people with their health journey. A HUGE part of that process is through high quality milk. I am a massive proponent of rich, high quality milk from Jersey Cows.

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