This elderberry cordial recipe is one of the best ways to preserve elderberries. This homemade elderberry syrup is a cold remedy that makes a refreshing drink and delicious drizzles to sweeten desserts.
The best way to preserve Elderberries and use their superpower when needed is to make homemade elderberry cordial. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, it is a herbal formula that supports your health during the cold and flu season.
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Today is the autumn equinox, which marks the beginning of Autumn and brings us closer to winter. Our ancestors would have begun the journey towards warmer lands and started stocking up on food and clothes, essential duties to survive the winter. This was, of course, before weather apps or even calendars, so how did they know that winter was fast approaching?
One way would have been the changing color of the leaves, another would be birds migrating south, and another would be Elderberries ripening around this time.
Fast forward 10’000 years to my garden. My mother-in-law is visiting, and we’re taking a walk through the numerous elderberry bushes dotting our path; they’re ripe and ready for picking.
My mother-in-law is an expert in elderberries; she’s often told me how she creates a variety of concoctions with her raw elderberries. One of her favorites is this elderberry cordial recipe that her neighbors flock to every autumn.
Before we jump to the recipe, let’s talk about all the benefits and attributes of elderberry cordial, such as beating a cold or the flu and boosting your natural immunity for the coming cold months.
Elderberries (Sambucus Nigra) are a herb that grows on a bush in the wild, mostly in forests and meadows. Elder flowers blossom in the spring, while elderberries are in season between August and October. We used the yellowish flowers picked in the spring elderflower cordial and fritters. My favorite way to preserve berries is to make the syrup, elderberry jam, jelly or powder.
The elder berries contain vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and Sambucol. But elderberries have been used to get rid of infection rapidly.
The Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that using elderberries before a possible infection help to prevent the spread of the virus, while taking them after an onset infection keeps colds and flus from progressing by up to 50%.
Some plants that look similar to elderberries can be toxic, so take a good look and search before you are sure.
Moreover, always pick fully ripe berries and remove any green stragglers and stems; both are inedible.
Lastly, always cook your elderberries for a minimum of 20 minutes, as we show in our videos.
Homemade Elderberry syrup; does it work?
As per the study mentioned earlier, elderberries fight infection naturally and effectively. In addition, these berries have antibacterial and anti-viral properties, thus an immune booster. The ancients recognized their power as one of the best natural medicines for the cold and flu season.
Though the cordial isn’t only made out of elderberries, we also used cinnamon, raw honey, and ginger, which have numerous health benefits. The use of herbs has long been hailed for their restorative and life-giving qualities, including immunity boost.
How to make fresh Elderberry cordial
This recipe is simple to make at home and virtually free.
First step: Gather fresh or dried elderberries.
As most of my recipes start, a walk is an essential part of this recipe, so make sure to pick fully ripened berries (approx 30 stems with berries).
Remove the berries from the stems using a fork and wash the ripe berries thoroughly. Then, remove as much of the green berries.
Alternatively, you could freeze elderberry bunches beforehand, making taking the little berries off much easier.
If you prefer dried elderberries rather than fresh ones, you will need half a quantity of dried ones (1 cup). You can also use frozen elderberries to make this cordial.
Second step: Place the ingredients into a saucepan
Place berries into a medium-sized saucepan and pour over 2 cups of water. Add cinnamon sticks, vanilla, grated ginger, and cloves.
Third Step - Bring it to a boil.
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the berries break down. Some of the liquid should evaporate by then.
Fourth Step: Add lemon juice and remove it from the heat.
Add the juice from two lemons without boiling and remove from the heat. Use the blender stick to crush the berries or mash the berries with the back of a spoon.
Fifth Step: Strain the mixture.
Strain the mixture through a fine strainer or a cheesecloth over a large bowl. Use the spoon to discard the pulp.
Press all elderberry juice out of the berries. To get as much juice as possible, use a spatula or back of a spoon.
Sixth step: Add raw honey.
Return the juice to the pan and add raw honey (or local honey) when the strained juice is lukewarm. Mix it well.
Seventh step: Fill it in a bottle.
Fill it in sterilise glass bottles or mason jars and keep it in the fridge.
How to make fresh elderberry syrup in an instant pot
Put all ingredients in one pot leaving out the honey. Next, set it to high pressure and leave it for 9 minutes. Vent the pressure and strain. Wait until the mixture is at room temperature, then stir in the honey.
How to use it?
Take one or two teaspoons of concentrated syrup every day to prevention for infection. Double the dosage if the flu symptoms have already hit.
Make a delicious drink by mixing ¼ cup of the cordial with a large glass of water or sparkling water. The water can be hot or cold.
The cordial is also good in herbal tea or lemon juice.
Drizzle to sweeten pancakes or waffles, or mix it into your yogurt; the kids will love it!
I used it to make this Elderberry curd tart.
And lastly, if you need a kick at the end of the day, you can mix it with rum and make a fine stiff one.
It tastes sweetly spiced with ginger and a cinnamon touch. Since it's homemade, don't be afraid to adjust its taste. Simply add more ingredients you like and skip those you don't.
The attached study suggests that due to the lack of sufficient studies to conclude on the safety in pregnancy, it should not be used by a pregnant woman.
How to store it?
Use sterilized bottles to store the syrup. To sterilize them, wash them thoroughly in hot, soapy water, or use a dishwasher to let them dry.
On its own, elderberry syrup will last around a month if refrigerated.
To increase the shelf-life of your elderberry cordial, add citric acid with or instead of lemon. In that case, use
1 teaspoon per 1liter/4.2 cups of syrup.
You can also freeze the cordial in an ice cube tray and keep the cubes in a bag in the freezer.
Alternatively, add some brandy or alcohol to make it last longer.
I’m getting elderberries from a friend next week! I love that your recipe has lemon and uses honey instead of refined sugar. I can’t wait to make this elderberry syrup soon!
Your ingredients list shows the recipe requires the juice from TWO lemons. However, in the instructions it states to use the juice of ONE lemon. Did I read it incorrectly or is it a typo? Please clarify.
Chelsea Duffy says
We love elderberry syrup in our house! I use it during the winter to hide my kids cod liver oil. It is tasty enough that they don't even notice it! I love that their immune systems are getting a boost as well.
I love elderberry syrup! My recipe is very similar to yours except I add some brandy to make it last longer. I make it and keep it on hand at all times! It's been a lifesaver for me! Sadly, since it's an immune stimulant, I'm very cautious letting my other half take it because they have an auto-immune disorder. Because of this, we keep tulsi and other immuno-modulating herbs on hand too! I swear that the secret to a healthy life is a well stocked herbal medicine cabinet! 🙂
How much Brandi? I’d like to be able to keep mine for that rainy day
Vladka Merva says
Hi Jennifer, A common ratio is to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of brandy per cup of elderberry cordial.Remember to store the cordial in a cool, dark place to further maintain its quality over time.
Emily Maze says
I planned on making elderberry syrup this year but I did not get very many elderberries on my bush! Lol I had to buy some instead, but hopefully my elderberry bush will produce enough next year so that I can use this recipe!
The story says the juice from one lemon; the recipe says the juice from two lemons. I know we can adjust to taste, but for the sake of making a shopping list, can you make the recipe and the story the same?
I don't have have fresh elderberries. Can I make this with dried berries?
I haven't done it but surely you can. Let them soak with water overnight.