Elderberry Syrup from Scratch

Elderberry syrup from scratch is not only easy to make, it is much more budget-friendly than store-bought wellness options!

It feels like this has been the eternal season of sickness. Almost everyone I know has been battling coughs, fevers, and congestion. I work with the public and I feel like as soon as I kick one virus I am catching another. I am sick of it! (no pun intended ...)

I'm not your typical "crunchy mom." I definitely had my essential oil era (MLMs might be a whole other post), but I don't religiously check ingredients or avoid modern medicine. I use medicine when I am sick, but my illnesses have become more frequent and lasted longer this year than ever before. And according to many of the people I have talked to about it, I am not alone in this experience. The medications and remedies I have tried are either not working, or the side effects are not worth it.

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It has been a while since I whipped up a batch of elderberry syrup from scratch, but this last round of illness made me decide it was time! This is a natural, no side-effects way to help kick the crud and boost your immunity! I start taking elderberry syrup at the first sign of illness. I take about 15ml (or one tablespoon) 3 or 4 times a day when I am starting to get sick, or am actively sick. I'll keep that regimen for up to 5 days. When I'm not sick, I will do one tablespoon a day to boost my immune system.

How does elderberry syrup boost immunity?

One cup of elderberries has 58% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, and contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Elderberry syrup from dried berries also provides vitamin B6 (mood boosting), iron, and even some minerals like copper and phosphorus. One of elderberry's active ingredients is called anthocyanin, which is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. There are multiple studies and claims about elderberry's benefits ranging from heart health, to allergy relief, to inhibiting cancer.

Can everyone use elderberries?

Elderberry syrup is made from natural, food-grade ingredients, so it is relatively safe and free from side effects. However, there are some people who should avoid it, or at least consult with a doctor before consuming. Elderberry stimulates the immune system, so may not be a good choice for those with autoimmune diseases. It is not advised if you are pregnant or breastfeeding because there hasn't been enough research on its safety. People with organ transplants need to avoid elderberry. Elderberry syrup can interact with some medications, so if you are diabetic, on steroids, on chemo, or taking a laxative consult with your doctor first.

How to make elderberry syrup from scratch in the Instant Pot

Elderberry syrup is really simple to make, but it is even easier when you make it in the Instant Pot! The base of this recipe is dried elderberries, water, and honey. You can stop there, but I like to add some additional spices for better flavor and added health benefits! I use dried elderberries, water, raw honey, cinnamon sticks, dried cloves, and some fresh ginger. Add everything EXCEPT the honey to the Instant Pot and cook on manual for 7 minutes. Let is naturally release, mash the berries with a wooden spoon, then strain the solids from the liquids. Let it cool completely, stir in the honey, add to a glass jar, and pop in the fridge to store for up to 3 months! You can also freeze this for even longer storage.

Can I make elderberry syrup without an Instant Pot?

If you have an Instant Pot that is the easiest way to make elderberry syrup from scratch, but people have been making it long before they were even invented. The steps are essentially the same: mix all of the ingredients except the honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Mash the berries with a wooden spoon to release all the juices, then strain the solids from the liquids. Cool completely and stir in the honey.

Notes and Substitutions

This recipe will yield a very liquid-y syrup. If you want a thicker consistency you can turn the Instant Pot to simmer and stir continuously until the mixture thickens. The same with the stovetop - just cook it to a thicker consistency. You can also add a little more honey to help thicken. If you want to make this recipe vegan, you can sub agave nectar, or simple syrup for the honey. You CAN use fresh elderberries if you want, but you will want to double the amount called for in the recipe. Elderberry syrup can be used as a topping on waffles, oatmeal, etc, but personally I just use it medicinally as I do not love the taste. Try this recipe with another berry for a tastier topping!

a mason jar with pansies in it beside a mason jar of elderberry syrup from scratch

Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients  

  • 2 C dried elderberries
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C raw honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 t dried cloves
  • 1 knob fresh ginger

Instructions 

  • Add the elderberries, spices, and water to the Instant Pot and set it to manual for 7 minutes. Then you will do a quick release (in other words open the vent and let the steam out right away). Smash the elderberries into the pot to get as much of the juice out as you can. If you would like a little thicker syrup you can turn the Instant Pot to sauté and simmer the mixture for anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and strain through a mesh strainer. Then stir in the honey. I store my syrup in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.

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