Elderberry Syrup: Natures Medicine Cabinet

Aug 02, 2023

Ever since the onset of the Corona Virus, doctors, naturalists, and homesteaders alike have been delving deeper into the healing capabilities of elderberry. The Greek healer and physician Hippocrates called the elder plant Natures medicine chest because of all its healing benefits. Our Missouri native strain of elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, is often overlooked as a weed, or scrubby underbrush. Nothing could be further from the truth as this plant has small fruits that are an absolute superfood!

Where to find Elderberries?

You will often see them ripen on gravel back roadsides or in naturalized areas statewide in the dog days of summer from mid-July to early August. A large suckering shrub or small tree, white flower clusters (which have their own health benefits) will start to form in June, producing large clusters of purple to black drupes later. Keep an eye on know colonies, as songbirds tend to pick the plants clean soon after the fruits ripen! Word of caution, these fruits must be cooked before consumption, as people have reported nausea, and gastrointestinal issues from raw fruit.

What are the benefits of Elderberries?

Elderberries have antioxidant properties and have been used since ancient times for many different ailments such as:

  • boosting immune system
  • stress relief
  • inflammation of joints and muscles
  • headaches and fever
  • lessening durations of cold and flu symptoms

While it’s widely touted as a miracle cure for many symptoms, modern US medicine has its speculations about its reported benefits. As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement to your diet. I’ve been using elderberry syrup in my daily vitamin regimen for years for joint and muscle pain relief, as I dislike taking pain medications.

Elderberry Simple Syrup

After harvesting your elderberries, it’s time to prepare them. I like this simple syrup recipe which can be taken as a daily supplement or added to your water bottle for a flavor enhanced antioxidant boost! 

  • 6 cups fresh elderberries, washed and de-stemmed
  • 6 cups water
  • Messner local raw honey, to taste

At this point, you can add additional flavorings if desired. I love adding sliced lemon, but sliced ginger, turmeric, or orange adds a little extra flavor. I love using cinnamon and cloves during the Winter months. 

Combine berries, water and additional flavorings in a saucepan. Over medium heat, let the mixture come to a medium simmer, stirring occasionally. It’s important to simmer uncovered, so cyanogenic alkaloids in the fruit can evaporate out of the syrup. Continue this process for about one hour, or until liquid is reduced by half. Strain the berries out with a screen strainer, using a spatula, press all remaining liquid from the berries into your syrup. Discard or compost the crushed fruit. Rinse your strainer and strain all liquid once more. While the liquid is still warm, incorporate the desired amount of Messner honey into the syrup, stirring until incorporated.

Yield of 3qts

Note- If you want a thicker syrup, just add a little more cooking time till desired consistency. Try adding half a cup of syrup to a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade! Amazing!

As always, thank you for your thyme!!!

Written By Trav the Tree Guy, Travis Morcha