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How to Make Elderberry Syrup with Fresh or Dried Berries

In this post we'll share how to make elderberry syrup with fresh or dried berries or juice. Making your own is a great way to save money on this wonderful immune supporting tonic. It's great for kids and adults during cold and flu season.

I noticed years ago that the ingredient lists on most commercial elderberry syrups for kids don't contain much elderberry. Now we make our own so we know it's the real deal.

Studies have shown that elderberry syrup helps treat the flu virus. (See more information on those studies at the end of the post.)

homemade elderberry syrup in swing top bottle

How to Use Elderberry Syrup

To use elderberry syrup as a preventative, give a tablespoon per day to adults or a teaspoon per day to children. 

At the first sign of illness, give adults a tablespoon full every 2-3 hours. For children, give a teaspoonful every 2-3 hours.

Elderberry Syrup Recipes

We have two recipes – one made with dried berries, the other made with juice.

dried elderberry syrup ingredients

Elderberry Syrup Recipe Using Dried Elderberries

Easy elderberry syrup recipe made with soothing herbs, honey and dried berries.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stovetop Cooking
  • Cuisine: American


Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup dried organic Elderberries (4 ounces)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 organic cinnamon stick
  • 5 organic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger or a pinch of dried organic Ginger root (optional)


  1. Place berries, water, and spices in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until liquid is reduce by one half.
  3. Strain the mixture into a bowl, squishing juice out of the berries.
  4. Stir in honey. Allow to cool and stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.


This will last for 3 weeks or more stored in the refrigerator. You can freeze for longer storage to keep the honey raw. Freeze in ice cube trays if you would like to take out small amounts as needed.

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Note: To preserve all the benefits of your raw local honey, make sure to heat the syrup gently. Do not bring to a boil.

elderberry syrup on top of wood stove

How to Make Juice from Fresh Elderberries to use for your Syrup

Strip the berries from the stem and rinse off any debris. You can use a steam juicer to make elderberry juice, or cook the berries down on the stove top and strain.

removing elderberries from the stems

Do not use mechanical juicers that leave the berries raw. Heat deactivates the cyanogenic glycosides and alkaloids in the elderberries, which makes them safe to consume.

To make elderberry juice on the stove top, first remove your berries from the stems. I load my berries into a heavy bottom pot to prevent scorching, then mash them with a potato masher and add about 1/4 inch of water.

Simmer, stirring regularly, until soft and mushy, about 30 minutes. Press the cooked berry mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. (You can also use an old t-shirt, towel, or pillowcase to line the strainer. The cloth will get stained.)

Let the berries drain until juice stops dripping, usually several hours or overnight. Discard the skins and stems and use the juice for syrup or jelly.


Elderberry Syrup Recipe with Lemon and Cloves

Elderberry, lemon and cloves combine for a gentle syrup for colds and coughs.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 34 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Canning
  • Cuisine: American


Units Scale
  • 1 pint elderberry juice
  • 1lb (450g) of sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 10 whole cloves


  1. Sterilize two 16-ounce jars or four 8-ounce jars, keep hot. Heat lids and rings in hot water, keep warm but not boiling. Fill water bath canner and bring to boil.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and boil for ten minutes (this infuses the flavor of the spices into the syrup).
  3. Strain out cloves and ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids.
  4. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Makes around 1-2 pints (3-4 cups) of syrup.


Adapted from Ashridge Trees in the UK.

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Elderberry Syrup with Honey and Cinnamon

Elderberry, cinnamon and honey combine for this soothing elderberry syrup for kids.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 pints 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 quart elderberry juice
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or 1 tablespoon citric acid* – if canning


  1. Sterilize three 16-ounce jars, keep hot. Heat lids and rings in hot water, keep warm but not boiling. Fill water bath canner and bring to boil.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot. Heat and stir until all honey is dissolved.
  3. Simmer for ten minutes. (This infuses the flavor of the spices into the syrup.)
  4. Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids.
  5. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Makes around 3 pints of syrup


To keep the honey raw, don't can the syrup, refrigerate instead.

To prepare and keep the honey raw, simply simmer the elderberry juice and cinnamon sticks together for 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Stir in honey until dissolved.

Store in the refrigerator and use within a month or so or freeze for longer storage. Oversized ice cube trays work well.

Keywords: elderberry syrup

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Cooking elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup on the stove top.

Harvesting Elderberries

The first time I made elderberry syrup, my friend, Tami, harvested and processed a ton of berries into juice. She brought juice over later in the week, and we set to work making syrup and jam.

Elderberries grow on large shrubs that like plenty of moisture. The American black elderberry is native the eastern United States.

You may be able to find it in the wild, but make sure you have a positive ID before harvesting. You can see the plants and tips for identification here.

cluster of elderberries on the plant

Elderberry bushes are also available through nurseries, so you can grow your own. We have a large elderberry patch planted at the north edge of our yard.

Learn how to grow elderberries here.

If You Don't Have Access to Elderberry Bushes

Making elderberry syrup from dried elderberries is cheapest, but the juice based syrups have a little more berry flavor. 

Wyldewood Cellars elderberry concentrate is made with pure elderberry juice and water. (Most products contain other juice or additives.)

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup is USDA certified organic elderberry syrup, and is made with:

  • Organic Black Elderberry
  • Organic Acerola fruit
  • Vitamin C (from Organic Acerola)
  • Organic cane sugar
  • water
  • lemon juice

Pick the Right Cinnamon!

Note: Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum verum – true cinnamon ) has better medicinal qualities than cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomom cassia).

I usually buy my Ceylon cinnamon sticks in bulk to save money and split the purchase with friends. I store any unused cinnamon sticks in a vacuum sealed mason jar to keep them fresh.

Storing Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Can your elderberry syrup to store at room temperature, or keep it refrigerated or frozen. It should last for 3 weeks or more when refrigerated.

For longer storage, canning or freezing is recommended. Use an ice cube tray to freeze small amounts to thaw as needed, or wide mouth freeze or can jars.

You can double or triple the canned syrup – just adjust the sugar and other ingredients accordingly.

If you have an abundance of berries, the honey elderberry syrup makes a pretty good pancake syrup or ice cream topping, too.

Is it Safe to Can Elderberries?

Lately, there's been a wave of negative propaganda put out against elderberries, claiming that they are not safe to can.

The issue is pH, which varies based on cultivar and growing conditions. Many commercial varieties have a pH above 4.6, which would be unsafe for canning. That said, some are below 4.6, especially wild varieties grown on acidic soil.

If we look at pH only, we're completely ignoring that elderberries are naturally antimicrobial. This study shows that “standardized elderberry liquid extract possesses antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria and gram-negative bacteria”.

Honey is also acidic and naturally antimicrobial. If you add extra acid and follow safe canning procedures, there's no way that elderberry syrup will be less safe to can than other fruit juice.

If you are still concerned, you can get a pH meter to test acidity. pH strips won't work because the juice stains the strip.

Health Benefits of Elderberries

Elderberries have a long history of use, but recent studies confirm numerous health benefits, too. Elderberry syrup was one of the few things my youngest could take for coughs that didn't upset his stomach.

Elderberry fruit is:

  • Very high in antioxidants
  • Has antiviral and anti inflammatory effects
  • Stimulates the immune system, helping you to fight off cold and flu viruses

Although the European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been more well studied and cultivated, the American elderberry contains similar anti-cancer compounds.

Note:  Some sources list the European elderberry as Sambucus nigra sbsp. nigra, and the American elderberry as Sambucus nigra sbsp. canadensis. Their properties are very similar.

Elderberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of various small fruits as measured using the ORAC method. [ORAC] = Oxygen Radical absorbance Capacity.

When tested, elderberry fruits had an ORAC value of 147. This compares to 62 for blueberries, 95 for cranberries, 53 for mulberries, 40 for raspberries and 36 for strawberries. (Source: “Elderberry as a Medicinal Plant“)

Note: If you have an autoimmune condition, avoid prolonged use and/or consult with your doctors. Elderberry may also interact with diuretics and immune suppressing medication.

Please see your healthcare provider for severe or long lasting symptoms.

DIY elderberry syrup

Is Elderberry Syrup Effective Against the Flu?

Yes! Scientific studies show that elderberry syrup helps fight the flu virus and beat flu symptoms. They include:

I'm very thankful to have a stash of elderberry syrup on hand for the coming winter months!

Can dried elderberries be reused to make two batches of syrup?

During cooking, the berries give up their healing compounds to the syrup. This means it's best to use new berries each time you make a new batch.

More Herbal Recipes

You may also enjoy our other Natural Remedies articles. Popular posts include:

Note: If you're looking for the elderberry jelly recipes, see Elderberry Jelly Recipes. We also have instructions for How to Make Elderberry Wine.

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filling mason jar with homemade elderberry syrup
Laurie Neverman

This article is written by Laurie Neverman. Laurie is a lifelong learner with a passion for natural remedies and holistic healing. She’s successfully improved her eyesight, cleared her psoriasis, and gotten off of prescription medication.

Last updated in 2023.

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  1. How do you reconstitute dried elderberries to natural strength juice? I do not want to make syrup. I will make jelly with the juice. Thanks!

    1. You can rehydrate the berries some by soaking them in water for 30 minutes (or more), and then press the liquid back out, but you’re not going to get a product that is equal to natural strength juice. If you want juice to make jelly, it would be better to simply buy some elderberry juice, or find somewhere to buy berries or forage berries.

  2. I cannot believe that you would put honey in your recipes and simmer it. Anything over 110 degrees
    destroys the wonderful healthful enzymes in honey. Always cool your product to 110 degrees before adding honey. Honey has too much to lose otherwise.s

    1. The recipe that’s not canned calls for adding the honey after the berries have been simmered. The honey is not simmered.

      The recipe that’s canned is necessarily heat processed, so the enzymes are already toast.