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Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

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Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Canning

Seeing as we’re in the midst of winter, I figured it was perfect time to break out the pound of frozen elderberries I had stashed in the freezer (leftover from my foraging and jelly-making adventure back in August… thank you past self for having the foresight to freeze all this beautiful fruit for later!) and turn it into a delicious homemade syrup.

What to do with it? First of all, try stirring it into soda or use as a flavor mixer in your favorite cocktail (I mean, a splash of this in a gin and tonic would be superb!)

Also? Try drizzling it over pancakes. It’s much more tart than your standard maple, but it’s downright delicious!

Homemade Honey-Sweetened Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can help strengthen your immune system, lower blood sugar, moderate digestion, and even reduce wrinkles. Those are some big benefits from a little berry. (You can read more about the health benefits and risks of elderberries here here).

That said, this recipe was written as a syrup for culinary use ONLY. It is not meant to be consumed as a health supplement. Additionally, this recipe was written to be canned in a boiling water bath for shelf-stable storage. Without this heat processing it is not shelf-stable, and the syrup MUST be refrigerated or frozen.

Elderberry jelly has many of the same delicious benefits, although it does have more sugar too. Syrup is just another way to prepare elderberries, since snacking on raw elderberries is not an option (the stems, leaves, and uncooked seeds are toxic and should not be eaten. Cooking the berries makes the seeds safe for consumption).

(Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to download the free printable labels too!)

Homemade Elderberry Syrup and FREE Printable Labels!

I sweetened my syrup with honey, but you could use organic sugar or evaporated cane juice as well. Use a mild flavored honey since the flavor will come through strongly in the reduced syrup: if you don’t like the taste of the honey on its own, you probably won’t like the final product.

The sugar also helps with preservation of the syrup. You can certainly increase the sugar if you prefer a thicker and sweeter syrup, but do not leave it out if you want to water-bath can the final product (same for the lemon juice, elderberries on their own are not acidic enough to be safely canned on their own). Leaving out the sweetener entirely would result in a shockingly tart syrup… like sipping a sweet tart.

I canned the syrup in these adorable little 1.5oz jars, which each hold about 3 tablespoons of syrup.

If you’d like to freeze your syrup, I recommend dividing the syrup into ice cube trays that hold approximately 1 tablespoon per cube, which will let you easily thaw out one serving at a time. Once frozen, you can transfer the cubes to an air-tight container or bag and they’ll keep for up to 6 months.

Naturally Sweetened Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Canning

While I used frozen elderberries here (and if you search around, you can find sources for frozen berries online), you can also use dried elderberries… simply use 1/2 pound of dried berries per pound of fresh berries called for in the recipe. Elderberry juice is another alternative, simply measure out the quantity called for in the recipe and reduce with the honey and lemon juice to make a thick syrup (and you get to skip the tedious process of straining out the pulp).

I’ll be honest that elderberries on their own don’t have much flavor; like a mild, alkaline blueberry sort of. The sugar, lemon juice, and hint of ginger brighten the flavor and make it palatable and, while tart, certainly enjoyable. You could also substitute the ginger with a cinnamon stick, perhaps, or maybe some cloves? Flavor as you please!

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Harness the antioxidant-rich properties of elderberries in this homemade honey-sweetened elderberry syrup recipe. It’s great with soda, added to your favorite cocktail, or drizzled over pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (4 cups) fresh or frozen elderberries, or 1/2 pound dried elderberries, picked over and all stems removed.
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup honey or 1/3 cup sugar (can increase quantity to taste)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled (optional)

Directions:

  1. To make juice, place berries in a large, heavy saucepan along with water. Cover and bring to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, mashing berries with a potato masher until they soften and release their juices.
  2. Press berries through a food mill or fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Strain juice a second time through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove any remaining solids. You should have about 2 2/3 cups of juice.
  3. Pour 2 1/2 cups prepared juice into a saucepan along with honey, lemon juice, and ginger. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until syrup has thickened slightly and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard ginger. Once cooled, syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months (pour syrup into ice cube trays to make for easy dosing).
  4. If you will be canning the syrup, while the berries are cooking, fill a large stock pot or canning pot 2/3 full with water; place a rack of some sort in the bottom and place over medium-high heat. Wash/sterilize your jars and submerge in water bath as it heats. The pot should be just about boiling by the time the syrup is reduced and ready to go. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use.
  5. Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars, leaving 1/8-inch of head space. Wipe jar rims and screw on lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes (7 if using smaller jars), then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 2 weeks.
All images and text © Lindsay Landis /

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Homemade Elderberry Syrup FREE Printable Jar Labels

Bonus Printable Labels

What good is a vibrant purple syrup like this if you don’t have a pretty label to go with it?

I designed these rectangle labels for these 1.5oz hex jars, but they’d also work on larger jars or lids. The decorative bands can go around the middle of the jar as shown in the photos, or also used as a ‘seal’ over the lid. Date labels included as well for the bottoms of the jars.

You can get the editable version of this label template for just $4 by clicking the buy button below:

Editable Canva Label Template

$4.00
Buy Now

If you don’t need the editable version, you can still download a FREE non-editable PDF file, just enter your email address below. The downloadable PDF file contains 12 labels per page. To use, simply download the printable file by completing the form below. Print your labels onto full-sheet sticker paper, cut out shapes, and apply directly to the (canned and cooled) jars.

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50 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Right after reading your post yesterday our local health food store posted a vlog regarding flu prevention and elderberry syrup was at the top of the 5 “must dos”! They also included vitamin D3 as another preventative, which I thought was interesting, as well as colloidal silver spray – makes sense. Thanks for sharing your life with us!!

  2. I made the syrup & others are asking for the recipe because of an unusually cold winter in Texas this year. It tastes great & of course is good for you too!

  3. Hey! Thanks for the recipe! What about sealed jars? If processed correctly, what is their shelf life? How many days can they stay out before putting them in the fridge? Also, how long are they good for in the fridge? Thank you so much!!

  4. I usually add about a cup of brandy but a little less should work to as a preservative. My friends love getting a bottle of this at Christmas time as not only is it an immune booster, it’s delicious.

  5. We used to have elderberries growing up in western Pennsylvania. My mom made jelly every year. I can’t say that I have seen elderberries here in Central New York. I would love to try this syrup.

  6. Thanks for the canning info!

  7. I’m looking to make several jars for Christmas presents this year. How many jars can you typically make with a 1 lb bag of dried elderberries?

    • 1lb of dried berries will be 2x the recipe listed, so about 5 cups worth. Of course that could vary depending on how thick or thin you make your syrup.

  8. Your recipe is amazing. Thank you for taking time to share his with all of us. I have a question. If the seal isn’t broken what’s the shelf life at room temperature?

  9. Your recipe is amazing. Thank you for taking time to share his with all of us. I have a question. If the seal isn’t broken what’s the shelf life at room temperature?

    • I usually say a properly-sealed jar is good for about a year. It’s probably more, but I like to stay on the safe side with these things. Once opened it’ll need to be refrigerated.

  10. Thanks so much for the wonderful receipe. I think we all need this at this time of the year. How wonderful the labels are as well . They are awesome and they are an  extra bonus showing how truly dedicated you are to your people and your passion.
    Peace and love. 
    MPS

  11. Help I’m making the elderberry syrup and added the honey in the first step will that ruin the syrup?

    • You’ll probably need to add some more honey after you strain the berries, as that step will probably strain out some of the honey as well. It won’t ruin the syrup, just taste as you go to be sure the sweetness is good for you.

  12. Great work on the wonderful elderberry! I have been growing commercially for almost a decade now and am still in love with the plant and all it can do. Recently I have been making more with the flowers, even though taking the flowers means less of a berry crop thankfully I have enough to spare.

  13. Hey there! I can a lot of our home grown veggies and I love elderberry syrup and have been wanting to can and preserve my own. The kind I would buy online or in the store has Apple cider vinegar (ACV) in it. I love all the health benefits ACV has so I would like this in my syrup as well. Have you ever used this is your recipe? How would you add this in? How much do you add in?

    • I would assume adding vinegar would be ok since it would only increase the acidity (and you need high acid for safe canning). However I would try to find a tested recipe from Ball canning or the National Center for Food Preservation just to be 100% sure.

  14. Has anybody actually tested the shelf life? Does it actually last up to a year when can properly?

    • I am not a food scientist, but my own jars were still fine to consume after a year. With more sugar they could potentially keep even longer.

  15. My first batch is cooking right now. I did increase the water and hiney a bit, and added some cloves and a half cinnamon stick. It smells vety holiday like in my kitchen right now. Mmm

    • You should wait to put the honey in until after you cool it to 110 deg F. Otherwise you will kill all the good stuff in the raw honey! 😁

  16. How much does an adult take!? 
    How about a 1 year old? 

  17. you say start with 2 1/2 cups and reduce to 2 1/2 cups!?

  18. Would simmering the honey destroy some of it’s antioxidant properties?

  19. Hello! I recently harvested my elderberries and made syrup. I have read different opinions on how long the syrup can last when refrigerated. Some say up to 3 months in the fridge. My syrup has fermented after 6 weeks being refrigerated. My question is: Does the syrup still contain the medicinal benefits now that it has fermented? Could I preserve the syrup by freezing in ice cube trays at this point?
    Thank you!
    Frankie

    • Freezing it would make it last longer, as would water bath canning. A higher-sugar quantity might make it last longer, but I’ve only ever tested this recipe up to 2 weeks in the fridge. I would toss the fermented syrup, better safe than sorry!

  20. Thank you Lindsay! I have had quite an intestinal upset today, which now am sure it is due to the fermentation. I tossed it all!

  21. You are not supposed to add honey to anything that is too hot, it destroies all the good stuff that is in raw honey. I always add my honey once the liquid is safe for me to handle with my hands. Never heat the honey!

    • You’re risking botulism if you don’t bring the liquid to appropriate temperature (that’s the point of water bath canning, to hold the contents of the jar at boiling for a set period of time, essentially sterilizing it). If you’re concerned about the health properties of honey I recommend making a small batch and keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer instead.

  22. Hi! I’ve never canned before so I am a little new to it all! Is lemon juice necessary to canning elderberry syrup or can I leave it out? Thank you! 

    • Yes.  Canned ingredients need a certain amount of acid to be properly canned.  Bottled lemon juice is best because the acidity is a known quantity and guaranteed to be at that percent.  

    • DO NOT omit the lemon juice if you plan to preserve this. The lemon juice is required for safe acid levels for home canning. You can swap it out for lime juice or even an equivalent amount of citric acid if you want a more neutral flavor, but you need that acid for this to be safely preserved.

      If you’re just refrigerating it to use within a week or two, then you could potentially leave out the lemon (although I don’t think it tastes as good without it, the flavor is a bit flat without that bright acidity).

  23. I have made this “syrup” 3-4 times and it never thickens to a syrup.  I have boiled it longer and it cooks down to less than 1 1/2 cups.  It is more like juice.  It is a wonderful addition to my home brewed Kombucha but it is not a syrup.  

    • If you want something thicker (like pancake syrup, for example) you’ll need to add a lot more honey or sugar. Reducing it concentrates the flavor but the sugar is what gives it a thicker consistency.

  24. Does the heat and pressure from waterbath canning diminish the health properties or benefits of the syrup at all?

    • I cannot speak to the health properties of this syrup, but if you want to store these long term, you have to process it in a water bath. Otherwise you can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

  25. Hi I’m about to try your elderberry syrup recipe. I’ve heard that heating honey kills the good ‘mojo’ in it.  Is the honey in the recipe just used for sweetener and not as a health benefit? If so, I’ll substitute with sugar since I’m canning it. Thanks and love  your website.

    • The honey here is used as a sweetener, for flavor, and as a more unprocessed alternative to sugar. But you can certainly use sugar instead (use maybe 1/2 cup or more to taste)

  26. Hi- Can I use elderberry concentrate rather than dried or fresh elderberries? I can’t find them anywhere close to where we are in Nova Scotia and shipping is outrageous. If it would work, what would the ratio be (concentrate to honey)?
    Thanks so much!

    • You are essentially making a concentrate with this recipe. You could try adding a bit of honey to that until you like how it tastes. I haven’t tried it personally so I can’t say as to exact ratios!

  27. Just wanted to add here for those of you asking about sealing the jars.  If you are doing that using a steam bath or other heat process, you will destroy the medicinal benefit of the honey.  It should only be added after the simmered ‘sauce’ has cooled somewhat.

  28. If I make the jars airtight how long will this keep? I am thinking about making it now for Christmas presents? Thanks 

    • If the jars have been processed in a water bath and properly sealed, then they’ll keep for up to a year. If you do not water-bath process the jars they must be refrigerated and will only last 2 weeks.
      You could also freeze the berries to make the syrup later if you want it to be freshly made for christmas!

  29. Hi I am making this syrup now and don’t understand the water bath for the jars?
    Could I sterilise the jars in the oven ? 

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