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How To Make Elderberry Syrup For The Winter

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


Living in the forest, we are surrounded by a number of beautiful flora and one of the most giving of these plants is the elderberry, Sambucus spp. The Indigenous people called the elderberry the "tree of music" because they made whistles, flutes, and other instruments from the stems. The stems are easy to hollow out and turn into wind instruments, as well as a number of other tools. The Chumash utilized the elderberry wood for making self-bows used in hunting small game.

Elderberry ripe berries on branch

Properties of Elderberry

In the state of California, elderberry can be found in chaparral, mountains, deserts, and the outer regions of urban environments. Flowers are harvested in early spring and berries in early summer. However, the time of harvesting can vary depending on the environment. At 5500 ft. elevation, we tend to harvest flowers in late spring and berries in mid-summer. There are around twenty species of Sambucus worldwide. Around our forest town in southern California, we have come across two separate species; Sambucus racemosa var. melanocarpa (black elderberry) and Sambucus mexicana (Mexican elder or blue elderberry).

Health benefits of elderberry

Elderberries are a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Different parts of the elderberry plant have a number of medicinal uses. A decoction of flowers was used to treat colds and fevers. A poultice was made from elderberry buds on the head for heat stroke. The ashes of the elderberry flowers can be used as a poultice to treat wounds. The berries themselves can be used in a medicinal syrup to help treat colds and respiratory issues.

Harvested Wild Elderberry

The elderberry is a must-have plant if you are building up an at-home herbal cabinet. This natural remedy is a great tool to add to any homestead. Moreover, it's a great plant to have on your property, and if you are able to start a plant from a cutting, then it's well worth it. In the meantime, please check out the recipe for winter elderberry syrup, used for medicinal purposes.

Elderberry Syrup as a Natural Remedy

This recipe is intended to be used for medicinal purposes. A natural remedy to boost the immune system and to protect from colds and respiratory illnesses.

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • Sauce pan

  • Amber bottles

  • Cheesecloth

  • Funnel

  • 2 cups Foraged and Dried Elderberries (berries can be dried in a dehydrator over night at 135 ˚F)

  • 4 cups Cold Water (distilled, purified, or spring works best)

  • 1 thumb sized Fresh Organic Ginger

  • 1 Organic Cinnamon Stick

  • 1 cup Vodka or Brandy

  • 1 tsp Reishi Tincture (per finished bottle )

Dehydrating Elderberries

  1. Gather over 6 cups of fresh elderberries

  2. Remove elderberries from stems using a fork

  3. Wash elderberries in water and allow to dry half way

  4. Put elderberries in dehydrator over night (12-16 hours) on 135˚F

Creating Elderberry Tincture

  1. Fill 12 oz mason jars with dried elderberries leaving an inch headspace

  2. Fill the jar with vodka or brandy

  3. Seal jar and place in a cabinet or pantry in the back where there is no light

  4. Shake two times per day for one month to 6 weeks

  5. After a month squeeze out the resulting liquid using cheesecloth

Making Elderberry Syrup

  1. Combine berries and herbs with cold water in pot and bring to a boil

  2. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 30-40 minutes

  3. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 1 hour

  4. Strain all contents using a funnel and cheesecloth into large bowl

  5. Add 1 cup of honey or more to taste

  6. Add 1 cup of Elderberry tincture that you made or 1 cup of brandy or vodka

  7. Transfer into amber bottles leaving room for 1 tsp of Reishi tincture and 1/2 inch headspace.

There are faster options to making this recipe. You can purchase organic dried elderberries online and bypass the tincture recipe. You can substitute fresh ginger for dried ginger. You can also leave out the reishi tincture if you don't have any available. 




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