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84 responses to “How to Make Elderberry Syrup”

  1. john wooldridge

    Now that I’ve got to try. It’ll be a while on this side of the pond before the berries are ready – just finished racking the elder flower wine.

  2. J.R. Young

    My father smelled of elderberries…..

    Aside from them being plentiful and delicious they are incredibly medicinal. A couple of teaspoons throughout the day when you are feeling the symptoms of a cold can help immensely.

    My favorite is on vanilla ice cream though. I made a balsamic elderberry reduction on a whim once that was great with pork….maybe I should get around to making some for myslef instead of raiding our medicine cabinet.

  3. marshall

    Excited for my elder flower liquer! Shook it for the first time two weeks ago. Used Grappa! I’ll have to try this next.

  4. deana

    I was walking the dog and found what I thought to be an elderflower bush by the pond. The berry tasted terrible but looked right… is there something nasty that looks like it? Trying to get a good picture of a leaf on line to see if I have the right thing because I love elderberry jam and would like to make it. Does it have a horrible bitter taste?

  5. Maia Brindley Nilsson

    I’m sorry to say I have made elderberry syrup the last three years and no one in my family will use it be me. : ( I use it particularly throughout flu season in my morning filmjölk (a Swedish soured milk, kind of like yogurt) with muesli since elderberries are supposedly excellent at curbing the flu and miniminzing recovery time. Maybe I’ll give it one more shot this year with your recipe. I’m also really keen on trying your elderberry ice cream recipe. Thank you for the post.

  6. Me

    Hey Hank,
    Thanks for this recipe! I am always looking for different ways to use elderberries. Not only are they great for fighting the flu but they also lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and are great for coughs, colds, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Mangiare!

  7. OregonCoastGardener

    Do you ever use red elderberries for this recipe? Or any other recipe… they are all over the place on the central coast of Oregon right now and lots of people have asked me… thanks.

  8. Squeak

    Thanks for the recipes. I cant wait for our elderberries to get ripe enough to use. I am from Europe, so it´ll take some time.

  9. Lynn

    I’ve got my eye on a huge amount of berries. Made this last year using a food mill but I’ll try an immersion blender this time and see how it goes. Time to pull out clothes to wear when processing items that stain!

  10. Carolyn

    Hi Hank,
    Love reading your blog and look forward to trying out this method for making elderberry syrup. Would love if you could do a piece on mindful foraging and how it is not nice to park and/or forage from “posted” private property , especially when the homeowner has asked them not to (this is for the two gals driving the silver mini van parked on my property, using a red wagon, foraging elderberries from the trail yesterday, and fruits/vegs from the adjacent farms!).
    Thanks! Carolyn from Southport (West Sacramento, CA).

  11. Stella

    Wow, do I love this site! You are my kinda people.
    Last winter I made an elderberry syrup with honey to ward off the winter nasties. It was too late for fresh berries but boiling dried ones worked great. Either the nasties didnt get close to me or this worked.
    Incredibly healthy syrup and this year I have my own bees to provide the honey.

  12. Tom

    You should also look at making the elderflower syrup or cordial. It is truly delicious and reminds me of spring.

  13. adriann

    Do you think you can use a blender or vitamix for this? I have been making elderberry syrup for 3 years now with the 2 huge bushes in my yard but it is soooo time consuming to strain and pop them all! I would appreciate any input on this. I do not own an immersion blender and I make a ton of this stuff and give it to family members to keep them healthy all winter!

  14. rob

    De stemming is not that difficult if you flick them off the stems with a fork
    as advised in other sites. In uk the berries are dark red not blue
    Best not to use blender as they boil down once you have pulled berries
    off the stems. Cut from bush at the thicker stems to hold all the stems on
    the bunch together before discarding them together. Happy berrying!

  15. RockingCM

    Hank, awesome site! Elderberry syrup is on my list. I have been making Gooserry Jam and wanted to do something with Elerberries too. Thanks for the info.. Now off to get some doves tomorrow.

  16. Cheryl

    Hi! How much if you convert 3 pounds of elderberries to cups? Same proportions if I use honey instead of sugar? Thanks a lot!

  17. Suzanne

    Hi – just wanted to say your post for elderberry syrup is beautiful and it inspired me to look past the ripening glut of tomatoes that need processing to a bush (cultivated not wild) in the back garden brimming with ripe berries (I’m in Canada at the eastern tip of Lake Ontario). So I picked some and used the tines of a fork to gently rake the berries from the stems – worked well and was able to de stem in a half hour. Your book is at the top of my wish list and so shortly will be on my kitchen counter. Best of luck with your book tour.

  18. ClaudeA

    Don’t know if you can find piloncillo in your local South-of-the-Border grocery store, but, MY, MY! what a taste treat of healthy sweets! For some of the best ever rhubarb sauce, berry syrups, marmalades, and whatever else calls for loads of sweetness, piloncillo is impossible to be beat! If it’s still not totally sweet enough, I also add a few pinches of Stivita brand stevia, but usually, just the piloncillo is sufficient.

    Today, along with the smoked salmon back I made soup stock and salad bits from, I put fresh-picked rasp and wild blackberries in a sauce pan – no added water – and a small cone of solid piloncillo [Pilopncillo is solidified, dehydrated raw sugar cane juice], and ft it to simmer at tthe lowest possible heat for about four hours. The berry juice separated, and the gentle heat and liquid dissolved the piloncillo cone, and I finished it with a couple of tablespoons of corn starch, after thoroughly breaking all the berry kernels.


  19. Alex Morton

    My 11 year old kid’s teacher has asked me to come up with edible wild foods for the 5th graders at various seasons this year. I am thinking of making elderberry
    syrup to start. There are lots of elderberries around here in Sac–but are they still good to eat this late in the season?

  20. korri

    We have an elderberry tree in our front yard, just discovered last year. We used a steamer/juicer and made elderberry jelly. It’s wonderful. I would like to try your syrup recipe. I love using the steamer/juicer rather than going through the process of cooking, mashing, putting them through a food mill. Would I use the same ratio of juice to sugar that you have in your recipe if I did it this way? Thank you.

  21. Pam

    I really like your post on Elderberry Syrup. I just finished making 5 quarts of syrup from another recipe and I can see it’s real runny. I still have some in my freezer so will try your recipe with those. I also steam juice and recently put up 60 quarts. It has taken me 2 wks to get to this point. Last yr. I just gently pulled the berries off the stems but this yr. I took cookie sheets and large ss bowls and filled with berries then put in freezer for at least 4 hrs. Large bowls take over night. Rub between hands or with fingers and they fall right off. I have a fetish for elderberries and is hard for me to pass up any but I think I’m at my limit. All total, with my husbands help, we picked (6) 5 gal. buckets full. I also dried some in my solar dryer and they are really sweet. I’m anxious to try your recipe.

  22. Lila

    Thanks for the elderberry recipes on this site, and usage suggestions. I just picked a ton of the berries a few days ago (two 13-gallon garbage bags each about 1/3 third full of berry bunches). This is my second year of dealing with elderberries. The easiest way I found to de-stem them last year is to throw the bags of berries into the deep freeze for a day or so. When I am ready to deal with them I take out a big bunch of them, put them into another plastic bag, and smack them against a table top or the kitchen counter top. Most of the berries fall off the stems into the bag. Then I dump them onto a jelly-roll pan and it is easy to scoop off piles of berries while leaving little and big twigs behind. I put the cleaned berries in another bag and into the freezer while I work on the rest of the remaining frozen berry bunches. It still takes time, but this way is not as fussy as trying to pick all the little stems off the berries when fresh. (I tried using a fork as many have recommended but got impatient.) After finishing the whole batch, I weighed out 3 pounds and put them into a large stockpot to simmer out the juices and followed a recipe for jelly. I will try the immersion blender technique/food mill this year. Thanks for the tip.

  23. Mike Borlovan

    Beautiful and well managed WordPress blog. Thank you for the interesting Elderberry Sirup recipe. Just recently my wife and I were learning a lot about the great health benefits of the elderberry, and started to make some research. We were looking for one for a while, but this is the one we like the best. I’ve been growing and selling Elderberry plants for a long time in my Nursery, but I never had the time to look deeper to it’s nutritional and health properties that this amazing plant has. But now we know.

    Thanks once again for making it available.


  24. The Elder | Inner Landscape Design

    […] equally medicinal to the dark berries of the late summer.  My favorite source of recipes is from Hunter Adler Gardener Cook – like his Elderberry Syrup, Pontack (an ancient Elderberry Sauce for game), and Elderberry […]

  25. cheryl

    well if you get a fruit steamer you don’t have to worry about de-stemming the fruit.

  26. Dare I Say, I’m Looking Forward to Fall | Grow With Me In My NJ Garden

    […] syrup with the berries from the bush in the photo above (the big bush on the left). I used this recipe and method as a guide, except I used my Breville juicer to juice the berries. It was awesome by the way, and […]

  27. Marketa

    I have made elderberry syrup for years. The branches are not toxic!! I cut the branches just above the berries. Rinse, put all in the juicer..Add sugar to the juice, slow boil for an hour. pour into pint jars and seal. I can’t keep it. The whole family loves it.

  28. nana

    Thank you so much for the recipe and tips! Here in northern CA, I planted three bushes a few years ago, and am now reaping the rewards. Frozen berry destemming works great, too! The berries hold up w/o losing much juice.
    Oh yeah, elderberry syrup (w/ some sweetener) with champagne makes a great kir royale. Just saying, for all the food snobs out there.

  29. icebear

    I could NOT find my food mill, so i used a coffee press for the half batch i cooked up this morning.

  30. Cheryl

    I made this syrup and it turned out great! I have been able to make two batches of elderberry jelly and 7 jars of syrup all from one bounteous elderberry bush we found while out 4 wheeling.

  31. Dana Zia

    I can not believe I haven’t found you before now! great site! Caveman hubby just came home with about 2 gallons of elderberries and even cleaned them all! So I was like….”What do I do with elderberries???” I’m going to make this syrup and pork loin and elderberry chutney and… sky’s the limit. Thanks for the recipe!

  32. Wild in Petaluma: Foraging Fridays « terrallectualism

    […] to make my syrup. 5 Orange Potatoes uses one based on Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe and here is Hank Shaw’s recipe for a purely culinary Elderberry Syrup. Finally, here is Susun Weed’s take on the Wise Woman […]

  33. Bob in Holland

    I make elderberry jam, not syrup, using 50% sugar and pectin. I find that a bit of lemon juice improves the taste. With whole berries I think it tastes best if the elderberries are less than half of the fruit, the rest being whatever I have available: strawberries, black currants, bird cherries, or cranberries. With filtered juice, the pure elderberry jam is good, but I still like to add a bit of lemon. Thanks for the ideas about frozen destemming and pre-blending the berries.

  34. Ash

    Um, are you sure you want to blend them? I know someone who gave himself cyanide poisoning by throwing frozen elderberries into a vitamix. Since we don’t know if they were cooked or frozen previously it’s been a practice to avoid excessively mashing the seeds.

  35. Nicole

    We also use blender, and then strain the mix through a sieve. We freeze the berries first and then they come off the stems lickedy split. I do need a slightly finer sieve to get the smallest seeds; until I get it I have to run it through a jelly bag.

  36. Have a salad and relax: the Dipsacales trio | The Botanist in the Kitchen

    […] yummy was a few teaspoons of elderberry (Sambucus spp.) syrup that I made this summer (using Hank Shaw’s excellent instructions), some grated fresh ginger, and a slice of lemon. homemade elderberry […]

  37. sof

    Like your site – here in the UK been making elderberry syrup for years, I agree with Marketa, the stems are not toxic if cooked in the small amounts that you leave on. I take off as much stem as I can but cook the berries on the fine stems if necessary. Its the raw berries that are mildly toxic and can cause stomach upsets in adults.

  38. respect your elders | Culinaria Eugenius

    […] ways to remove the stems of flowers for elderflower fritters or effective removal of the stems of ripe berries by freezing them for such lovely delicacies as elderberry syrup.  You’ll also need to know that there are […]

  39. Red Elderberry Juice

    […] Nancy Turner summarizes the general PNW native opinion of red elderberries (Sambucus racemosa, not to be confused with the much more delicious black and blue elderberries) as follows: “Red Elderberries were not generally regarded highly as food, and were frequently mixed with other types of berries to make them more palatable. But some people really enjoy them.” Hank Shaw deems them “at best nasty“. […]

  40. Bob Lamb

    Don’t eat the seeds raw! They will make you sick. I did that last year with a handful on some vanilla ice cream and had the runs for a few hours and a very upset stomach for about 12-hrs. I had read an article that said you could eat them raw (skin and pulp) and didn’t see later where they said , “but not the seeds”. That was a big mistake!

  41. Debbie

    Thanks for the recipe! I tried to make elderberry syrup without enough water and ended up having to blend it into a pulp and freeze it. It’s still yummy, but I will to this next time :).

  42. Paul

    I got an old “juicy fruit no. 1 press” this year off from craigslist for making cider. I have so many elderberries around that I thought of pressing them so I threw a bunch in my 3-gallon press and got about a quart-jar’s worth of juice.

    In your recipe for the syrup you started by cooking them then straining them. Do you think I can use this “juice” for making the syrup? Do you think if I just bring it to a boil and cook it down for awhile that I can pick up your recipe at point 5. or 6.? Any recommendations or thoughts would be appreciated.

  43. habenson

    I have a steam juicer and it works amazing. I have been doing this forever. My parents would do this with a steam juicer as I was growing up so I learned from them. It extracts 100% of the juice and you don’t have to take the berries off the stem. You put everything into the top part and the steam dose the rest. Before you know it you will have juice flowing out of the tube and into your pot. I have found this to be the best method for whatever I am juicing for jellies and syrups.

  44. Arethusa

    About de-stemming elderberries – I put the fully loaded stalks of berries on cookie trays and place them in the freezer for a few hours. When the berries are solid, a stalk can be gently stripped in a few seconds, leaving behind all the tiny stems. The frozen berries never get squished between my fingers, and the work goes extremely quickly. I take a maximum of 8 berry stalks out of the freezer at once, as they soften very quickly. Believe me – it is absolutely worth a few trips to the freezer to be able to work with the frozen berries. After they thaw, they are too soft to pull off the stems.

  45. Kenna

    My elderberry efforts were messy. Hands still stained. Should have read your instructions first about freezing. My problem is that the elderberry juice has an odor. Didn’t remember any odor. They were kept chilled, but “stink”. OK, or do I need to throw out?

  46. Annabros

    elderberry syrup is also an excellent medicine – high in vit c and boosts the immune system. you can buy it (ha!) for about £10 per 250ml “Sambucol” or make it yourself..for about 20p per bottle. FUnnily enough, I’ve done the later….

  47. Elderberry Vinaigrette | smarterfitter

    […] recipes. My challenge as ever is that I’m not a massive fan of sweet things, so recipes like elderberry syrup are a bit lost on me (thought I’m told it’s quite good). I made an elderberry cordial, […]

  48. Eric B

    Over ripe berries will have a smell. If you leave them in a plastic grocery bag for tool long, they will break down and begin to smell. Basically rotten berries stink. One thing I have to watch out for here in NE FL is stink bugs. They love to hang around elderberry plants because they eat other harmful bugs. Too often end up in the bag. Keeping your berries in the freezer or fridge before destemming will keep the bugs from crawling out for a visit.

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  50. Debbie

    I made my first homemade syrup today and since I have nothing to compare the smell and taste to, what should I expect? When I first simmered the berries in the water on the stove, my daughter asked, “what smells like cheese?”! Should I be worried? I have only tried the store version called Sambucol, and that does not taste like this one. If you could help with any info that would be great. Thank you.

  51. Debbie

    I ordered them from Starwest Botanicals online. These to be exact.

  52. Debbie

    I haven’t come across ordering fresh berries and since I never smelled a fresh/dried one before, I have nothing to go on. All I can say is that this does not taste like Sambucol from the store.

  53. Debbie

    Where are some places to order in America? I thought I was saving myself some money by making my own, but it’s become a headache. Thank you.

  54. Debbie

    Thanks for your help. Not quite sure where I’d pick my own, but I may scrap these berries and go with store bought Sambucol.

  55. Freya

    I make elderberry syrup with 1/4 part honey and echinachea as an immune booster for the winter. Simply store in the fridge in a bell *canning)jar and take one delicious tablespoon per day.

  56. Steve C.

    My berries are already off their stems (frozen each day of back yard picking). Hard to judge from the photo – can you estimate how many CUPS of berries go with the 4 cups of sugar?

  57. Steve C

    This compromise worked well: I started with about 6 cups of berries, was forced to use the old potato masher, boiled and strained to get 2 cups of juice. Added two cups of sugar, boiled, produced 2 cups of delicious syrup.

  58. Gypsy

    I wash them on the stem then comb them off with a pik. Remember the comb that was used to style Afros? It works quick and easy.

  59. Harriet

    Elderberries in Southern Ohio smell similar to blueberries to me. They grow in the waterway behind our country home. We have planted some in our back yard near the waterway which has lots of moisture. I don’t have any problem pulling them off the stems although it is a pain but the TV is a distraction. Using a clean plastic tub works well. I find elderberry syrup enhances a blueberry pie! Overall the work involved in picking, cleaning and cooking elderberries is worth it all! Harriet

  60. Karin

    I live in Hampshire England. Just been out picking these plump juicy berries and am sitting in our garden getting the berries off the stems with a fork. Works well. But best to wear gloves to avoid purple fingers. Will go indoors soon to boil them with sugar and a tiny bit of water. Mash them with a spoon or any other kitchen tool. Pour this into cleaned jars. Mine becomes like a jam/syrup and is used for topping on toast, crumpets, cereal, icecream or a spoonful in Champagne or white wine and soda water. Delish! The jars are good in the fridge for a few weeks. Keeping some berries in the freezer so I can make regular fresh batches over the winter. Forgot to say this is lovely to flavour Vodka as well. Drink sensibly and enjoy these amazing berries. ???? Karin

  61. Linda

    Hello! I grew York and Nova variety elderberries outside of Chicago and after a few seasons got a huge crop this year. I got them ready and started cooking them, but the flavor of the juice was like cut grass. Do I have the wrong varieties? I don’t think the American elderberry is the Nigra species like European, but it is more winter hearty. Could the flavor be that off? I let some even ripen more, but the flavor was still unpleasant. I also don’t get the “bloom” on the berries with these bushes. I was hoping to make syrup, but no berry flavor here. Any suggestions?

  62. Donna Black

    I want to know if the Blue Elderberry can be used as a syrup for flu & cold remedy.. They say you should use black elderberry (sambucus nigra)for this syrup for flu & cold. So can blue elderberries be used??? Do different varieties have a different effect?? Or does each variety have their own qualities??

  63. Christine Strode

    I cooked my elderberries down to juice, made some jelly and froze the rest of my juice. I would love to find an elderberry balsamic vinegar recipe I could make with my remaining juice, any suggestions?

  64. Gino Palmeri

    I am so amazed by elderberries’ importance and potential that I’m going way past foraging them; I’ve grown 100 bushes to maturity and I’m planting even more! Here is one method of de-stemming that I like:

    You just get a couple of clean, empty totes or even just buckets and cover them with little precut rectangles of 1/2″ hardware cloth. Sit out in a shady spot and just drag each bunch of berries across it a few times– best while sipping elder flower cordial with a friend!! Pressing lightly from above with your other hand speeds the process. (First strip away any unripe (green) berries from the center of the bunch. Some stems do get through this way, but they are often loose and come out in the rinsing step.

  65. Lewis Ward

    Almost harvest season. Not sure about your method of mashing berries, you’ll get more juice but it will be cloudy and bitter. At least that’s what happens with cooked berries and squeezing the bag.

  66. Ruth

    Hi Can you tell me why the elderberry syrup fizzes up and spills out bottle neck on opening causing me to lose lots,I have made it for years an always sterilize the bottles,is there anything I can do to prevent this,I have searched internet an no one seems to mention this happening,

  67. Angie

    I’ve been making syrup for a couple of years now but a strange thing happened this year. My syrup turned into a weird mixture of syrup and little blobs of jelly – can’t find a mention of this anywhere. Tastes fine though.

  68. Sarah Berman

    I have a neat trick! I freeze a lot of fruit with my vacuum sealer into bags labeling the lbs and cups of each bag. This allows the cell walls to break down and gives me the luxury of dealing with the fruit in winter months. I thaw out the bags and then place them on a towel while running a rolling pin over the bag to mash all the fruit. Back and forth, side to side over and over. This is super efficient, quick, and I can see the fruits of my labor in the clear bag. The less air you seal in your bag the better, so the air pockets don’t get in the way. I never have to worry about mashing fruit again!

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