Boost Your Immune System With Elderberry Syrup

October 12, 2015

Bandaids, Herbal Medicine

elderberry syrup for babies, elderberry immune system

Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) grow wild all over the eastern half of the US. When we first started homesteading, I had no idea they grew wild in my area. I ordered two varieties from an online nursery, which quickly grew into lovely small trees. Now that I know what the plant, the flowers, and the fruits look like in their various stages of growth, I notice elderberries along highways, at the edges of overgrown fields, and in roadside ditches… they’re everywhere!

The small purple-black fruits of the elderberry plant are an amazing source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and anti-oxidants. They have very strong immune boosting properties, and have proven to be effective at reducing the length and severity of colds and flu.

Every July I harvest several pounds of elderberries for making jelly and an immune boosting syrup. If I can’t cook them right away, I stick them straight into a freezer bag to store until I have time to process the berries. Elderberries also make great juice, wine, vinegar, dressings, and shrubs (the drink, not the plant). I also dehydrate them to add to muffins, pancakes, granola, and oatmeal.

Mid-September, when the air begins to get crisper, is usually when I start making batches of immune boosting elderberry syrup. The syrup is basically an infusion of berries and strong medicinal herbs, sweetened with honey. My kids love the taste, and happily take their daily dose.

Here’s how I make elderberry syrup:

elderberry syrup for babies, elderberry immune system

Immune Boosting Elderberry Syrup


*Yields approx. 1 quart

elderberry syrup for babies, elderberry immune system

  • 1 cup elderberries (fresh, frozen, or dried)
  • 8 Tbsp dried rose hips (If you want to grow your own plant the Rosa Rugosa variety)
  • 8 Tbsp dried Echinacea root
  • 3 tsp dried ginger root
  • 4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups filtered water (not treated/city water)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups honey (raw, local if possible)


elderberry syrup for babies, elderberry immune system

Pour the elderberries, rose hips, echinacea, ginger root, and cinnamon sticks into a medium stainless steel pot. Cover with water. Bring almost to a boil, then turn the heat to med-low and simmer uncovered for about 30 min, or until the liquid is reduced by half.

elderberry syrup for babies, elderberry immune system

Once the mixture has cooked down, strain the herbs from the liquid using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Since organic cinnamon sticks aren’t too cheap, I reuse them several times. Rinse and air dry the cinnamon sticks thoroughly, then store in a glass jar or ziploc bag.

Allow the strained liquid to cool until warm enough to handle. Stir in honey, tasting until you’ve added the right amount to suit your preference. Echinacea adds a little bitterness to the syrup, so I always go heavy on the honey. Plus, honey is good for sore throats, coughs, and colds.

elderberry syrup for babies, elderberry immune systemDosage

We take 1 teaspoon a day (adults and children over a year old) as a preventative measure. When we’re sick I usually double or triple that, taking a tsp at mealtime throughout the day. I would not recommend giving this syrup to babies under a year old.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Making your own elderberry syrup is so much cheaper than buying bottles of Sambucus at the health food store. Especially when you grow or forage the ingredients!

I think I’ll sit down and have a few swigs of this stuff. I feel a cold coming on.

Do you have elderberries growing where you live?




About Kendra Lynne

Kendra shares all of her homesteading adventures on her website, New Life on a Homestead. Also be sure to check out her popular Canning DVD: At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond!

View all posts by Kendra Lynne

10 Responses to “Boost Your Immune System With Elderberry Syrup”

  1. Chad Wright Says:

    Very nice, thank you.


  2. Matilda Says:

    We grow our own elderberry. With just 3 bushes we get about 10 quarts of elderberries – enough for us and to share. Each summer I make up a long store syrup and tincture out of our elderberries. To increase the shelf life of your mixture you can add approximately 1/4 vodka or brandy per cup of syrup. We use it to head off the flu during the season. For active flu, I make up a batch of syrup with the addition of 2-3 star anise pods. The acid in star anise is the active ingredient used to make Tamiflu. We got over the flu in a few days last winter that kept many of my childrens’ classmates home for a week and several in the hospital.

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll have to try adding the hips from our roses this winter!


  3. Jim Says:

    another good use for Elderberries:
    when we have a loved one not doing so well, in bad shape actually and not eating, loosing weight etc.
    we take pure elderberry juice in a 4 0z. glass, add to it about 3 oz. orange juice, then about 1 oz. elderberry. give that to them in the morning or whenever you can get them to drink it. will boost there appetite and energy levels. Used this a lot in the south for the old ones that are basically waiting to die. picks em up and ads to there long life. Doctors figured out what we were doing, checked it out, now its standard fair in the homes for the aged.


  4. Shelagh Drew Says:

    I have been using elderberry syrup for many years but I never thought of adding all those other things. Maybe this one will work even better. Thanks for the recipe.


  5. Libollo Says:

    The writer tells us in the middle of October, that he/she harvests the berries in JULY. This article should have been published at that time. By now, Mid October, the berries, if any left are bone dry resp. not there anymome. @the editors of this site-pls. consider the time difference- July/October.
    I´ve harvested my berries. But whoever reads this article now-is as far as I can tell -tooo late.!


  6. Samnjoeysgrama Says:

    Great article. Elderberries were blooming like crazy this Spring. I drove from Kansas to Chicago and they were all along the roadways. This was such a wet spring, it makes me wonder if wet years are better for elderberry production. Since we cycle through El Nina and El Nino, from flood to drought, I have decided to make as much elderberry syrup as I can during the really productive years. Do you know if the syrup is better on wet years or better on dry years? Some herbs are stronger if their soil is kept pretty dry.
    For anyone who has not yet tried elderberry syrup, here is my experience. (It tastes so good I would eat it over ice cream, BTW). I was visiting my daughter and had a terrible cold. She gave me elderberry syrup and monolaurin (from coconuts). Within 20 minutes, all the cold symptoms were gone…until it wore off about 4 hours later. It didn’t actually get rid of my cold.
    HOWEVER, as soon as you feel the symptoms coming back, you take the next dose. The symptoms were completely gone while I took it. I really don’t care if it didn’t technically “cure” me. If the symptoms are gone, that is all I need. When the cold has run it’s course, you realize you don’t need to take it again because, at some point, the symptoms don’t come back.
    Nothing from big pharma that I have ever used does such a fantastic job!


  7. Debbie Says:

    Great recipe, but when the SHTF will one be able to get cinnamon? I know it can be stored, but if I ran out do you know of something native to the US that could be used as a substitute and work just as well?


  8. john Says:

    Great article ..another use for my newly planted elderberries .Thank you Papa John


  9. Matilda Says:

    I don’t know of a really good substitute for cinnamon that would taste as good with the elderberries. I would leave it out. Other treatments can be made from garlic and onions, although they are more anti microbial rather than anti viral. The tincture that we make with just elderberries is quite effective on its own.


Leave a Reply