Make this culinary elderberry syrup recipe when you need a sweet syrup to add to your favorite drinks, like cocktails, mocktails, and smoothies. You can also drizzle it over pancakes and yogurt. Some studies indicate it can even help with a sore throat, but we’ll stick with the culinary uses.
Store-bought syrups will oftentimes have lots of sugar and may even have thickeners added. This homemade elderberry syrup uses minimal sugar (maple syrup) and no preservatives. That means it doesn’t get as thick as the store-bought varieties, but the flavor is amazing.
Speaking of flavor, you might be interested to learn more about what elderberry tastes like.
Flavor aside, you can use elderberry syrup to soothe a sore throat or have some fun with it and add to your favorite cocktails and smoothies.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Adding ginger as the elderberries cooks make this syrup more flavorful because elderberries on their own are not very flavorful. Besides the fact that ginger adds amazing health benefits as well.
- Using a cinnamon stick infuses flavor but the stick is strained out of the final syrup, leaving behind the flavor without any texture.
- Maple syrup adds just a hint of sweetness, making it the best elderberry syrup ever!
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Organic Dried elderberries — You can only find fresh elderberries at certain times of the year, but dried elderberries are actually easier to work with.
- Water — If your water has flavor, be sure to use filtered water.
- Maple syrup — A bit of maple syrup adds a hint of sweetness. You can substitute agave nectar.
- Lemon juice — Adding a small amount of lemon helps the syrup keep longer.
- Ground cardamom — This is a favorite chai seasoning and it adds great flavor to this syrup as well.
- Fresh ginger — You’ll need a small piece of fresh ginger. You can substitute ½ to 1 teaspoon of dried ground ginger.
- Cinnamon stick — You can find these in the spice section of many grocery stores, health food stores, and online.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
- Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Simmer (low boil) over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes. The syrup should reduce down to less than half and will thicken slightly.
- Remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the berry pulp and spices.
- Transfer the syrup into a lidded glass jar and store it in the fridge.
Transfer the syrup to a lidded glass container and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it by pouring it into an ice cube tray. Once the ice cubes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or storage bag. Then when you need some elderberry syrup, simply transfer the number of cubes you need to a bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge overnight or leave it out on the counter for a few hours to thaw.
The elderberry comes from a tree (that looks a whole lot like a bush if you ask me). As with many plants, elderberry benefits are plentiful. (Source) Let’s discuss a few:
- Low calorie — 1 cup of elderberries has only around 100 calories
- High fiber — that same cup will yield 10g of fiber
- Rich in flavanols — elderberries contain 3 flavanols, including quercetin which has been shown to reduce inflammation.
- A great source of antioxidants
- Packed with Vitamin C — these berries are a great source of Vitamin C, providing up to 80% of your daily needs.
Don’t Eat Them Raw
Although the berries look enticing, you should avoid eating raw elderberries. That’s because the stems and unripe berries contain toxins. The good news is these toxins are eliminated with cooking.
Does elderberry syrup actually work?
Elderberry syrup has been used as medicine for centuries. Scientific studies show conflicting reports of its efficacy with some indicating it can improve both the duration and symptoms of a cold or flu. A more recent (and larger) study shows no impact. That said, using it to soothe symptoms (even as a known placebo) can have benefits. (Source) (Source) (Placebo Source)
Can you freeze elderberry syrup?
You can freeze elderberry syrup in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months.
How long does elderberry syrup last in the fridge?
Thanks to the use of maple syrup and lemon juice, elderberry syrup can last as long as 3 months when properly stored. Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container like a lidded jar.
How to use Elderberry Syrup
Note: You should always check with your doctor before adding a new herbal supplement to your diet. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.
- Elderberry tonic — As with almost any syrup, you can use it to help calm sore throats during cold and flu season
- Make an elderberry cocktail — combine the syrup with vodka and sparkling water.
- Add it to smoothies — Mix up the flavor and nutritional profile of green smoothies by adding a teaspoon or two of this healthy syrup.
- Serve it on pancakes — It’s not as sweet as maple syrup, but drizzling this over pancakes will add a slightly tart, slightly sweet flavor that complements most pancakes.
- Drizzle Over Yogurt — I love plain vegan yogurt, but adding a spoonful of berries or a lightly-sweetened syrup makes for a nice treat.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
- ½ cup dried elderberries (see note)
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. The syrup should reduce down to less than half and will thicken slightly.
- Remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer. Use tongs to remove the spices pods, cinnamon stick, and ginger. To extract as much of the elderberry juice as possible, use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to press the berries into the strainer. Discard the berry pulp and spices.
- Transfer the syrup into a lidded glass jar. Store the syrup in the fridge.
- The syrup will keep approximately 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze it into cubes. Then thaw individual cubes in the fridge.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.