This article focuses on Making Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry syrup is edible as a juice and is used as a medicinal.
Last summer I harvested, cleaned, and froze two one gallon bags of elderberries. This weekend I finally got around to making elderberry syrup. I take the elderberry syrup on a daily basis to ward off illness and if I do get sick, I take a little extra to help speed up recovery.* I previously wrote an article on growing elderberries which is linked in the hotlink.
Harvest and Freezing
This summer I harvested elderberry from my back yard in Pasadena, MD on several occasions. I harvested the berries from Adam, Nova, and American elderberry plants. We also have John, but it did not produce enough to harvest. Harvest when the berries are completely black (actually a very dark blue/purple) and very soft. Cut the entire fruit head off of the plant and put it in a bowl. Make sure you pick off any bugs before bringing them in the house.
After they are in the house, I put a strainer in the sink and start separating the fruit from the stalks holding them on. They are easily removed, but it takes a long time because the fruit is very small and there are a lot of them. After I have a reasonable amount in the colander, I pick out all of the stems/stalks that landed in the colander and then I wash the elderberries by running cold water over them. After they are washed I put them on a paper towel and dry them. I repeat this process until they are all picked, washed, and dried.
While the elderberries are drying, I grab a one gallon zip lock bag and write the name of the fruit and the date on the bag. Once the elderberries are dry, I put them in the bag and toss them in the freezer for processing on another day.
Making Elderberry Juice
The first step to most of the recipes I found is to make elderberry juice. This involves mixing the elderberries with water, mashing them, boiling them, and then separating the pulp and seeds from the the juice. I included this process below this article in the Recipes section so you can just use the recipe without all of my description.
The way I did mine is I dumped all of the baggies of frozen elderberries into a large pot. I added a few cups of warm water to help them start to defrost and I used a potato masher to start crushing the fruit. After several minutes of crushing, I added more water to cover the elderberries so they are just barely floating.
At this point I put the pan on the stove and brought it up to a boil and then simmered it for 10 minutes. While this was going on I was still going at the mixture with the potato masher.
Once the time was up, I put a strainer in a pot and poured the mixture into the strainer. This separates the pulp and seeds from the juice. I let the mixture set in
the strainer for a few minutes and then I started mashing the pulp with a spoon to get a little more juice out. Make sure you are using a strainer with small holes or you will push the pulp and seeds through the strainer.
If you look at the picture titled “Pulp and Seeds to be Discarded” you can see I have a metal strainer with very small holes. I bought this strainer for seed saving and it works perfect for this as well. I’ll do a separate article on seed saving in the summer or fall of this year.
After you have pressed the mixture into the strainer and no more liquid is coming out, discard the pulp and seeds. They can be composted and you won’t have to worry about the seeds sprouting because of the heat from the boiling.
Rinse and Repeat
Now rinse the strainer and the original pot and run the juice through the strainer one more time into the original pot to get any pulp and seeds out that may have got through the first run. If you have a good bit on the second run through you may want to consider a third run thorough. I did get a few seeds on my second run, but there weren’t too many, so I didn’t do a third run through the strainer.
Now you can “can” the juice for another project later or use the juice for a recipe. I immediately went on to the Elderberry Syrup recipe.
Elderberry syrup uses the elderberry juice from above as well as honey and cinnamon sticks. Like the elderberry juice above, I’ve included an abbreviated version of this recipe below in the recipe section so you can just copy that section without all of my details.
I measured out how much elderberry juice I had and it turned out to be 7 cups. So I modified the recipe below to match my quantity. The original recipe calls for 1 quart of elderberry juice (4 cups), 2 cups of honey, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Since I was close to 2 quarts of elderberry juice, I just doubled all ingredients. Since elderberry syrup is not rocket science, I just get close and it always seems to work out fine. So I ended up with the following ingredients: 7 C of elderberry juice, 4 C of honey, and 4 cinnamon sticks.
For The Recipe – Making Elderberry Syrup
For the recipe, just put all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. The elderberry syrup can be kept in the refrigerator, freezer, or it can be canned. I usually can mine in half pint jars (8oz).
If you are going to can, you need to start the canning process while the elderberry syrup is cooking so the lids, rings, and canner is ready when the elderberry syrup is done. I processed my syrup for 10 minutes.
As you can see in the picture titled “Processing Elderberry Syrup” I have the syrup cooking on the back burner, the water bath canner warming on the right front burner and the lids and rings in hot water on the left burner. Amazingly enough, everything was ready exactly when it needed to be and was timed just right.
The picture titled “Finished Making Elderberry Syrup” shows of the half pint jars that I canned. I also have one jar that I did not put through the canning process, I just put it in the refrigerator and I had a little more that I put in a cup and everyone in the house tried some.
Also notice that I label the lids of the can with the date that they were canned and the name of what it is. I don’t can that much stuff, but I’d still surly forget what was in them a few months down the line.
Recipes – Making Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry Juice Processing:
- Pick fruit and wash
- Put in bag and freeze
- Comb fruit off of branches
- Put berries in a pot and add enough water to cover them
- Stir / crush the berries – get up to boil, then simmer for 10 min.
- Strain fruit
- Heat to almost boil
- Put in canning jar to within ¼ in of rim
- Water bath can: 5min for pint, 10 min for quart
Making Elderberry Syrup with Honey and Cinnamon Recipe
1 quart elderberry juice
2 cups honey
2 sticks cinnamon
Sterilize three 16-ounce jars, keep hot. Heat lids and rings in hot water, keep warm but not boiling. Fill water bath canner and bring to boil. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot. Heat and stir until all honey is dissolved. Bring to boil and boil for ten minutes (this infuses the flavor of the spices into the syrup). Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4′′ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Makes around 3 pints of syrup. (You can adjust this recipe to make a smaller batch.)
Source of the recipe is here. Please note that the use of raw honey doesn’t matter that much when making elderberry syrup because you lose the benefit of raw honey during the canning process.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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Now that I’m done Making Elderberry Syrup, I will start taking it right away to try and rid myself of a lingering cold.
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