Elderberry and blackberry syrup recipe

Elderberry and blackberry syrup recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Pancakes
  • Fillings for pancakes

A use for my leftover berries I had in the freezer. Very tasty and high in vitamin C.

Hertfordshire, England, UK

11 people made this

IngredientsServes: 15

  • 1 punnet elderberries
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 to 4 whole cloves
  • caster sugar, as needed

MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:25min ›Ready in:30min

  1. Place all the berries in a saucepan and add the water and cinnamon; heat gently over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, mash all the berries to release their juices.
  2. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a measuring jug pressing all the berries in the sieve to squeeze all the juice out for every 600ml (1 pint) of juice add 450g (1 lb) of caster sugar.
  3. Bring to the boil and keep boiling for 10 minutes. Then pour into sterilised bottles and pop in a couple of cloves. Store in the refrigerator.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2)

Reviews in English (2)

I made this one with frozen berries and it worked a treat, thank you!-12 Mar 2011

Made mine with blackcurrants & brambles from the freezer, I also used lime sugar topped up with a bit of caster sugar. I didn't put cinnamon or cloves in though. Very tasty with a lime kick! Because I used lime sugar I sieved the mixture before bottling.Lime sugar, basically rind and juice of limes mixed with caster or granulated sugar (you can just use rind if you want). Use a low oven to help dry it out, when dry put in jars and use in baking. You can do this with lemons, oranges, cinnamon & lavender to name but a few.-20 Feb 2015

Herbal Medicine: Blackberry Syrup

OK, let’s start with a warning and a disclaimer: herbal medicines are not something you just jump into without educating yourself. There are plenty of herbals that have side effects, just like conventional medicines. There are some herbal preparations that can kill you quite quickly – aconite springs to mind. The other issue is knowing what you’re treating as a registered nurse I’m a pretty fair diagnostician after forty-plus years in the business. If you want to get into herbals, find some good books or online sources and spend some time with them. If you can find a knowledgeable practicing herbalist who will teach you the basics, even better. With that said, I do use herbs in a number of ways.

An old-fashioned food mill.

This is the time of the year to start thinking about flu season. I don’t say that to encourage flu shots, but to encourage immune-boosting elderberry or blackberry syrups. Both are traditional winter remedies to help prevent flu and colds and to help you get over the viruses more quickly. Commercial elderberry syrups are available, but I like to make my own. I haven’t run across a commercial version of the blackberry syrup. Luckily both grow on the ranch, although I have a LOT more blackberries than elderberries.

Elderberry has been more thoroughly studied, but both show antiviral effects. Elderberry has been shown to be effective against some strains of the flu, while blackberries were effective against herpes virus, which causes cold sores. Elder flower and elderberries may also reduce the swelling in mucous membranes and have anti-inflammatory effects. You want Sambucus nigra, or black elderberry don’t use dwarf elder, which can be toxic. If you aren’t sure what you’ve got, find an expert to help you. Blackberries are pretty easy to identify.

Use organic spices if possible conventional spices have usually been irradiated.

As for the other ingredients, ginger helps sore throats. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and can combat bacteria and fungi. Cloves are another anti-inflammatory. Honey helps suppress coughs and has antibacterial properties. Traditional recipes vary, but most include fruit, honey, spices, water and sometimes alcohol or vinegar. The alcohol and vinegar are used primarily as preservatives and aren’t really necessary. Exact quantities are not as important as the overall proportions. If you have an extra cup of berries, toss ‘em in.

Straining the syrup honey on the side.

Syrup that has been boiled down, pulped and strained.

You won’t need as many elderberries as you will blackberries, but you’ll use proportionally more water to extract the good stuff from the elderberries. The usual dose as an immune booster is ½ to 1 tsp for kids (smaller dose for smaller kids). For adults, it’s ½ to 1 Tbs. Some sources say you shouldn’t take immune boosters every day. I’ve seen recommendations to take these syrups five days a week and then stop for the weekend, or to take it for two weeks and stop for a week. I’m of the opinion that you should use it as a preventative for situations where you know ahead of time you’re going to be exposed to flu bugs. For example, start the kids on it a week before school and keep them on for a couple of weeks. By then they should have adjusted to all the new bugs in the school environment. If you know you’re going to be flying somewhere, follow the same instructions — planes are notorious for harboring respiratory bugs. If you actually come down with something, take the daily dose two or three times a day until the symptoms are resolved.

Stir in the spices and simmer a bit more.

Elderberry Syrup
About one cup black elderberries
3 to 3/12 cups water (some people replace one cup of water with one cup of vinegar)
1 ½ Tbs fresh or dried ginger root (if fresh, peel and cut into matchstick strips)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp clove powder or 1 tsp whole cloves
1 cup raw honey

Wash elderberries and remove any debris such as leaves. Bring all ingredients except honey to a boil cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. The liquid should reduce by about half. Remove from heat, strain into a glass bowl and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. Add honey, stir well and pour into glass bottles or jars. Store in the fridge.

Blackberry Syrup
8 quarts blackberries (this makes a lot of syrup, so adjust quantities downward as desired
2 quarts water
1 Tbs each whole allspice and whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
Honey (the original recipe called for 4 quarts of sugar, but sugar adds nothing to this remedy and also depresses the infection-fighting T-cells in your immune system – seems counterproductive in an immune-boosting recipe)

Pick over and wash berries. Put berries and water in a big saucepan bring to boil. Simmer until the fruit is very soft, about one hour. Strain into a glass or stainless steel bowl, then put the pulp through a food mill. Discard pulp and seeds. Return juice to saucepan, add spices and simmer another 20 minutes. Strain out spices, let cool to lukewarm and stir in honey until dissolved. If you make the full recipe, it will take about one quart of honey. If desired, you can add one pint vodka, whiskey or brandy per quart of syrup. Screw lids tight and keep in a cool dark place.

Whispering Earth

I’ve managed a few elderberry harvests in the last couple of weeks and have been mixing up some different syrups and other medicinal and delectable preparations. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is one of our most important herbs at this time of year as both a treatment and preventative for autumn and winter colds and flus.

Collect your elderberries when they are ripe and a deep purple/black, remembering of course to ask the Elder Mother’s permission first. When you get home, strip them from the stems and discard any that are still green or red as well as any that have shrived. Elderberries should be cooked before ingesting as they can be laxative and emetic when eaten raw and the seeds are usually strained out after processing because they are slightly toxic.

Discard the unripe berries

Elderberry Syrups

I have made a variety of different elderberry syrups this year with different healing properties emphasised in each one. The basic method for all the syrups is the same and is as follows:

  1. Place 2 cups of elderberries in a pan with 2 cups fresh water and whichever additional herbs you are using (see below for variations.) Simmer gently for about 30mins with the lid off until the water has reduced to about half it’s original amount and the berries have released all their juice. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
  2. When cool, strain through a jelly bag into a measuring jug.
  3. Add approximately the same quantity of raw honey to the elderberry juice and stir until dissolved. You can use less honey but the mixture will not last so long.
  4. Bottle in sterilised preserving bottles and label. Store in the fridge.

During the first stage you can add different herbs according to your preference. I added a handful of fresh thyme and hyssop to my first batch to make a syrup that is particularly effective for winter ailments that affect the respiratory system. My next batch included orange peel and cloves to make a Vitamin C rich, anti-microbial blend that will also ease the digestion. Cardamom and ginger added to the next batch are warming and stimulating to sluggish winter circulation. Finally I simmered a batch of elderberries on their own and added 12 pink rosebuds when I turned it off the heat. I let these infuse whilst the mixture cooled and added half the quantity of linden blossom honey (I used less so as not to overpower the beautiful and delicate rose flavour) to make a divinely comforting blend for grey days which also encourages a healthy heart. As I mentioned before this syrup won’t last as long as the others but it’s so delicious I don’t think it will be hanging around for long anyway! In the fridge these syrups should last 3/4 months, slightly less for the rose one.

Syrups can be taken directly off the spoon, added to hot or cold drinks, drizzled on porridge, added to smoothies or any other way that takes your fancy.

Sugar vs. Honey? Most traditional syrup recipes use sugar instead of honey and heat the elderberry juice a second time after adding it to make a thicker syrup. The advantages of this are that it will last longer, potentially the whole year until the next harvest comes round, and that it’s much cheaper- raw honey can get a bit pricey in large quantities. The downsides of course are that sugar does not contain the medicinal benefits of raw honey which is antibacterial and rich in antioxidants and enzymes. In fact, sugar can act to deplete the immune system and many people in today’s sweet-crazed society already have imbalances caused from an excess. Still if you want to make large quantities that will last, it’s pretty much the only option and the damaging effects won’t out way the benefits of the elderberries.

Elderberry Elixir

If you want a long lasting and delicious preparation that warms your wintery cockles then this could be the one for you. I go to town a bit on my elixir, making it with a combination of port and brandy, local raw honey and warming spices. When i was at university I was introduced by a friend to the winning combination of port and brandy as the ultimate cure for colds and flus. Nowadays I tend to turn to herbs first but I still respect these warming alcohols for driving out the cold and the ache. That’s why I combine them with the elderberries and the warming spices from another of my favourite beverages, Chai. For me, this blend is the ultimate winter warming wonder recipe. Take a tablespoon in a small glass of warm water each evening as a preventative or take half a teaspoon every couple of hours at the first sign of infection.

To make it mostly fill a jar with freshly picked elderberries. Give them a wash and quick dry on some kitchen towel first as the natural yeasts present on the berries can cause this to ferment and ooze out of the jar if you aren’t careful. Add one cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, 8 thin slices of fresh ginger and then 12 cloves, 12 black peppercorns and 20 cardamom pods lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle. Add brandy until 1/3 jar is filled with liquid, then add 1/3 port and top the final third up with honey. Stir everything thoroughly with a bamboo chopstick or glass stirring rod. Lid, label and store out of direct sunlight, somewhere cool and dry for a month to six weeks before straining and rebottling. I like to hold the jar between my hands every few days and add some energy healing to the mix.

Elderberry Tincture

This can be made very simply by filling a jar with elderberries and covering with vodka, lidding, then allowing to sit for a month stirring occasionally, before straining and re-bottling. This will last at least the year and has the advantage of being easily added to blends of other herbs.

Elderberries can also be dried or frozen to make into teas or add to other preparations later in the season. I’ve had lots of fun creating delicious elderberry concoctions this autumn and I’ve enjoyed reading about other people’s adventures with elder too. Some posts from other bloggers I’ve been enjoying over the last few weeks include a lovely one over at Nettlejuice which you can read here . This one here from Moment to Moment which is full of beautiful photos. And this one here from Sensory Herbcraft which has an alternative syrup recipe using sugar.

Update: I’ve just read this post over at the delightful Teacup Chronicles which is full of great information on elderberries and some lovely reflections.

So, what’s in these elderberry gummies?

Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients and their benefits:

Elderberry Syrup

Made with raw honey and elderberries, which are rich in beneficial compounds like flavonoids, homemade elderberry syrup is the foundation of this recipe. It’s been found to be helpful for:

The flavonoids in elderberries also help the body absorb vitamin C, which is essential for immune function and processes like collagen synthesis. (1) As we’ll discuss in a bit, I add extra vitamin C to this recipe due to this synergistic effect.


Studies suggest that gelatin may make skin look more youthful, support digestion and improve sleep, among many other things. What’s not to love about that? I always opt for a high-quality, grass-fed gelatin powder like this one.

Vitamin C Powder (optional)

Elderberries need to be cooked in order to deactivate a compound that can cause digestive upset. Fortunately, most of the beneficial compounds found in elderberries are resistant to heat. One that is not, unfortunately, is the vitamin C found in elderberries.

For that reason, I like to stir in natural vitamin C powder – which also supports immune function – to these elderberry gummies after the cooking/heating process is complete. It’s super easy and it allows me to get vitamin C into my kids without adding another morning supplement to our routine. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the flavonoids in elderberries help with the absorption of vitamin C.

If you’ve read my post on natural vs. synthetic supplements, you know I’m not a fan of isolated forms of vitamin C. That’s why I used this whole food-based vitamin C that contains naturally occurring co-factors. It comes in capsules, which I open up and stir into the pot. (About 5-6 capsules equals the 1 teaspoon vitamin C powder called for in the recipe.)

Probiotics (optional)

Although we eat fermented foods several times a week and I try to remember to give my kids probiotic capsules to promote gut health and immunity, sometimes life gets busy and it doesn’t happen.

Fortunately for me, they love these elderberry gummies so much they take them automatically, so I add a little probiotic powder in to cover my bases. I like this probiotic, which comes in capsules that I can open up and stir in. (I use 3-6 capsules per batch)

Elderberry and blackberry syrup for colds and flu

Take this elderberry and blackberry syrup for instance. It is a powerful preparation against cold and flu for the winter months[i]. It’s also delicious poured over ice cream, as a base for a lemonade or add it to kefir or a shot of brandy. This is the first love of the Autumn.

Elderberries cannot be eaten raw as they will make you very ill but when cooked make a potent syrup full of vitamins A, B and C which is said to help ward off and provide relief from colds and flu.

If you have a favourite place to gather elderflowers earlier in the year, be sure to leave the majority so they turn into berries – this is vital food for the birds but also for us too.

Elderberries can be found from August through to October. They are reddish black small berries that hang in clusters when ripe. Blackberries are a natural pairing and ripen at the same time as elderberries. They also contain vitamins A, C, E and many B vitamins. Both berries contain anthocyanins - antioxidants that give them their deep purple colour.

I used raw honey for this preparation as it has a lot of antibacterial and antiviral properties but if you would like to make a vegan version, use yakon syrup or maple syrup instead. Yakon syrup has prebiotic benefits whilst good quality maple syrup, contains minerals. You don’t need to add a sugar, but it acts as a preservative for the syrup. If you want to omit the sugar, freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and defrost enough for a day or two at a time as it can start to lose its benefits quite quickly if not preserved.

Herbs and spices have many restorative properties. Ginger, star-anise, cloves, cinnamon and fennel seeds add sweetness and warmth. Ginger has wonderful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties cinnamon is a natural antiseptic whilst cloves contain eugenol which can be used to treat inflammation as well as having a touch of menthol to help clear your nasal passages.

Take a tablespoon or two a day for a couple of weeks on and then have a break for a couple of weeks to help build up your immunity against colds and flu.

For this recipe, it doesn’t matter if you use proper measuring cups or a teacup – just use the same measuring tool all the way through.

2 pieces organic unwaxed lemon peel

2 cups raw honey, yakon syrup or maple syrup

Put the blackberries in a bowl and cover with water with a sprinkling of salt added. Leave to sit for 15 minutes giving them a swoosh every now and again. This will remove any unwanted elements that will float to the top. Rinse the blackberries well. Rinse the elderberries and strip them from the stalks taking care to remove any green or under ripe berries.

Add the elderberries and blackberries to a saucepan with the water. Add the ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds and lemon peel. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the berries are cooked and pulpy and the liquid is reduced by half. Mash the berries - a potato masher is great for this - and allow to cool. It should be rich and syrupy.

Take a piece of butter muslin, fold it in four and line a sieve with it. Pour the mixture through so the berries and spices are strained out and collect the syrup.

Return the elderberry reduction to the (rinsed) saucepan adding your sweetener and warming gently so as not to cook it, particularly if you are using raw honey. Pour into a sterilised bottle and keep refrigerated.

In the refrigerator, this should last up at least for three months or longer.

Without the sugar acting as a preservative, keep it in the freezer in ice cube trays.

A Few Important Notes about Elderberries and This Recipe

1. First and foremost, Elderberries must always be heated, since in their raw form, they contain a constituent similar to cyanide. Although some sources say that fully ripe elderberries and dried elderberries are okay to consume raw, I prefer to be on the safe side and treat my berries to a nice, hot bath.

2. Ripe Elderberries are lovely to the point of being intoxicating, however they can be hard to source unless you know your plants, and are confident with your identification skills. Luckily, Elderberries retain much of their potency when dried, and can easily be rehydrated to make a delicious jam

Dried Elderberries--Just waiting to be made into jam!

Tags and Uses for this Remedy

    :The earliest herbal stories of Christmas are rooted in the desert of the Holy Land, and begin with the the wisemen bearing gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to the newborn child. : Be prepared for the cold and flu season by stocking your herbal medicine chest with a ready supply of herbs. :Homemade cough syrups and herbal medicine teas make use of simple ingredients like honey and infused with healing herbs. :You already have a powerful natural home health remedies in your kitchen. Culinary herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme not only add taste to foods, they make the food you eat better for you. : Flu, or influenza is not just a severe cold, the flu is caused by a virus. The flu is very contagious, and preventative measures should include antiseptic and antiviral herbs. :The use of herbs as intoxicants is an ancient rite of celebration. Herbs like hops and wormwood are used as brewing ingredients

Looking for something you can read offline? Join our mailing list and get a free copy of Methods for Using Herbs. This free handbook includes instructions on how to make basic herbal preparations at home. It covers making herbal teas, herb infused oils and balms, tinctures, and more.

Copyright © 2005 - 2018 Annie's Remedy * All rights reserved Citations Feel free to cite information given on these pages with a link to: Anniesremedy.com . Fair use of this copyrighted information is limited to small snippets of text.

** Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs are provided on this site is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice. Every attempt has been made for accuracy, but none is guaranteed. Many traditional uses and properties of herbs have not been validated by the FDA. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs. **

Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Coughs, Colds, and Flu

We make this elderberry syrup and have found it very effective in getting rid of cold and flu. It’s simple to make and makes a great homemade cough syrup too!

Elderberry Syrup for Cold and Flu

Few things make me sadder than watching one of my little ones sick with the flu, coughing uncontrollably and feeling like I can’t do anything to help. This was a familiar feeling several years ago, but then I discovered elderberry syrup! It’s a great natural cold and flu remedy and it helps get the coughing under control!

Meet Elder, a powerful healing plant, with a variety of uses.

Before I share my recipe for elderberry syrup and tell you about its usefulness as a cough suppressant and general immunity booster, I want to tell you a bit more about the elder plant.


Elder cleanses the body, so it is common to use it as a natural detoxifier. For this use, elderflowers are brewed into an elder tea to be taken a few times a day for a limited period of time.

These brewed flowers aid kidney function by relieving fluid retention and cleansing toxins. Elder stimulates the circulation, causing sweating, effectively cleansing the body. It quickly increases the activity of body systems and increases overall energy. One side-effect of this property is weight loss.


In addition to providing relief to the respiratory system and boosting immunity, the elder also promotes a feeling of well-being. Taken before bed, this elderberry syrup (and this elderflower tea), promote peaceful sleep and relaxes and soothes the nerves. Elder has also been known to relieve anxiety and lift depression.

Respiratory Aid

If you’ve ever taken a homemade cough syrup, it has no doubt contained elderberry as the main ingredient. Elder relaxes bronchial spasms, making them very useful for treating upper respiratory infections.

Further, fresh elderberries, combined with plantain, make an effective homemade cough syrup.

Cautions: Flowers are the mildest part of the plant and the safest for children. Leaves, roots, seeds, and berries of the raw plant contain cyanide-producing compounds and should not be consumed without cooking properly.

Elderberry & Plantain for Cold, Flu, and Cough

In addition to using some of my favorite essential oils when someone in our house has a cold, flu, or cough, I like to make this elderberry syrup.

As mentioned above, the elder is great for colds, coughs, and flu. And I like to use the berries and flowers to get the benefits of the different parts of the plant. I also add plantain leaf because it’s also well-known for treating coughs.

We’ve noticed that this elderberry syrup recipe soothes the throat, boosts immunity, and prevents excess coughing. When I use it, I notice the tickle in my throat is gone almost immediately.

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries! The branches of these humble roadside and streambank shrubs, festooned in summer with flat-topped clusters of airy white flowers, now drip with gorgeous, deep-purple clusters of berries. Learn how to turn those berries into elderberry syrup.

Botanists treat our common American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) as a subspecies of the European black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), used since prehistoric times for food, drink, and medicine. The plant also boasts a rich folklore.

Warning: Only the blossoms and the very ripe, cooked berries are considered edible unripe berries, leaves and stems contain mildly toxic amounts of cyanide compounds. The berries of some elder species are toxic, too. If you want to use elder flowers or berries, make sure you have identified the plant and its berries correctly. Collect only deep-blue/purple berry clusters that droop downwards and grow from woody shrubs. Don’t collect berry clusters that grow upright, and don’t collect red elderberries.

What Can You Make With Elderberries?

In past years, I’ve harvested the flower clusters and battered them into fritters or dried them for winter teas. I’ve used the berries in jams (great with blackberries) and to add crunch to pie fillings. Although I don’t make them myself, elderberry wines and cordials have served humans since prehistoric times to foster both health and conviviality.

This year, I made elderberry syrup. Herbalists consider both the flowers and (especially) the berries potent antivirals they’ve been used for centuries as both preventatives and treatments for respiratory illnesses.

Elderberries and syrup. Photo by Adam88xx/Getty Images.

Harvesting Elderberries

An elderberry patch half a mile down the road yielded so abundantly that I harvested 2 quarts of berries in less than 10 minutes.

It was easy to remove the berries from their stems using a gentle, downward milking motion. Then I rinsed them in cool water. I’ve learned to wear ratty shorts and t-shirts when handling elderberries, and I take care not to let them scatter on the floor or countertops. Elderberry juice serves as a strong dyestuff that’s difficult to remove once it has soaked into anything porous.

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

I froze most of the elderberries I harvested, reserving only a cup for making my syrup. Here’s how I did it:

  • First, I put the cup of berries, 3 cups of water, a cinnamon stick, four whole cloves, and 2 tablespoons of grated ginger into a stainless saucepan, brought the mixture to a boil, and then reduced the heat and simmered the liquid on low until it was reduced to about half of its original volume.
  • Then I poured the mixture into a stainless-steel mesh strainer set over a glass bowl and used a wooden pestle to push the pulp through the mesh to separate it from the spices and the seeds.
  • I added a cup of raw honey to the warm elderberry liquid, stirred well, waited for the mixture to cool, and decanted it into a sterilized, ¾-quart canning jar.
  • After putting a lid on the jar, I set it into the refrigerator. As long as I keep it cold, my elderberry syrup should last the winter.

I’ll take (or administer) a “medicinal” teaspoonful after exposure to a respiratory infection or at the first sign of one and then every 3 hours or so if a cold or flu does attack. The honeyed syrup also makes an effective cough suppressant. The sweet syrup can also flavor a cup of winter tea or top a fruit dessert.

Should I Use Dried or Fresh Elderberries?

The easiest form of elderberries to use for making syrup is dried. They store well and you can conveniently grab them as needed to make small batches of syrup that will remain fresh and potent before you need to make another batch. Of course if you have access to fresh elderberries feel free to use those.

Place the dried elderberries, diced ginger, ground cinnamon and ground cloves in a small saucepan.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer uncovered for approx. 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by roughly half (this isn’t a must). Use a fork or potato masher to mash the berries.

Let the mixture steep for a few minutes and then strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and mash or squeeze the solids to release as much liquid as possible. Let the liquid cool until room temperature (no hotter than lukewarm) and then stir in the honey. Makes about 3 cups.