How to Can Elderberry Syrup

As I was talking to a friend of mine at the fairgrounds, I found out an exciting discovery.  We somehow got on the subject of elderberries and I told him that I buy elderberry syrup for boosting the immune system.  He and his wife looked at me like I was crazy.  They asked me why I buy it when I can find it growing wild all over the place around here.

Oh my.  I was quite giddy with excitement!  I used to buy the little 4-8 ounce bottle of syrup at the vitamin store for at least $10.00.  Whenever we needed it, we would take about two teaspoons full and either swallow it straight or put it in our water to sip on.  By the time we all received one dose, the bottle was half empty!  But, it worked so well that it was worth paying for.

My friend took us on a drive to show us what this amazing plant looks like (he only had to drive my dad and I thirty seconds down the road to find some).   I realized that I had seen this plant numerous times.  As a matter of fact, it was almost directly across the road from our house.  I found numerous plants along the road near the grass and weed filled ditches.  The heavenly plant is everywhere!  Where have I been?

What is the big deal about elderberry, you might ask?  It is the best immune booster I have yet to come across.  When I use elderberry, I can’t recall ever getting sick.  Okay, maybe once, just so you don’t think it is some miracle berry!  It is high in vitamins A and C and will help treat a common cold by reducing mucous secretions.  It has also been shown to prevent swine and avian flu strands.  And, to top it off, it also helps relieve allergy symptoms!

Before we started to pick the berries, I had to decide how to make the syrup.  I didn’t want to make a tincture, as I didn’t want any alcohol in it and I wanted it to last longer.  I had planned on making quite a lot of syrup, so canning the syrup was my best option.

If you are making this to relieve allergies, I would advice not to can it but make smaller batches and refrigerate it.  That way you will be getting the most out of the local honey to help your allergies.  

If you don’t have wild elderberries around you, you can buy dried elderberries as well.  

Word of caution:

Do not eat the berries raw or drink raw elderberry juice!  

Now that I have scared you a little, let me continue!
Ingredients list includes:
Elderberries – pick when dark purple to black
Local honey – does not have to be raw as it will eventually be boiled
Lemon Juice – needed to raise the acidity 
Cinnamon sticks – optional
Pint Jars – for a gallon of juice, nine pints are needed
Here is what an elderberry plant looks like when the berries are still green.

Below is what you want them to look like.

Cut the stem and all.  Don’t worry about picking the individual berries.  After picking, put them in the freezer for a day or two.  Removing the berries from the stem will be much easier.
I found that rubbing my fingers on the berries from the base of the stem on down is the easiest way to remove the berries.  It might be a good idea to do this outside or at a place where you don’t mind getting purple berry juice on the floor.  No matter how careful you are, you will get some on the floor!
Once you are done removing the berries, rinse them well.  Don’t worry if you have a few little stem pieces in there.  They will be strained out later.

Put your berries in a stainless steel pot and barely cover them with water.  Bring this to a boil then simmer for 25 minutes.

Once you are done simmering the berries, strain the juice in a jelly cloth or other similar cloth.  Make sure you squish the berries and get as much juice as you can.  I make a gallon of juice, so the recipe will be for that amount.  You can halve it if you like.

Once you have all of your juice strained, put it back into a stainless steel pot and add two pounds of honey.  For a half gallon of juice, use one pound of honey.  Add 3 1/2 cups of pure lemon juice to raise the acidity and 2 cinnamon sticks(optional).  Once again, halve that if you have a half gallon of juice.  Bring the syrup back to a boil for a couple of minutes.  Now you are ready to can it!

For those who are unfamiliar with canning, make sure your jars are clean and sterile before you put the syrup in them.  Also, have your lids in a pan of water on the stove on low heat.  I put my clean jars in the oven at 200 degrees while I am making my syrup.

After filling each pint with 1/4 inch head space, put them in your pressure canner.  They should be covered with water as seen below.  No pressure is needed, just the water bath method for 25 minutes.

The end results are extraordinary!  The kids love it.  As a matter of fact, I have to make sure they don’t slurp it down like juice!

We picked more berries this week and are planning on making elderberry jam next!   What a wonderful discovery!

Need a sorethroat remedy?  Go here!

Are you in need of like-minded friends who are taking the challenge too?  Join the Replacing the Grocery Store Challenge Group on facebook!

Just starting this challenge?  Go here.

Don’t miss a thing!  Come follow me on /Facebook/ /Twitter/ /YouTube/ /Pinterest/ /Google+/

18 comments on “How to Can Elderberry Syrup

  1. Hi,
    Can I ask what "raw elderberry juice" would be? Wouldn't it be better to just make a quart or two at a time and put it in the refrigerator? At least that is what I do. I use elderberries, fresh ginger, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and water…simmer that for a little while and then when it has cooled a bit I add local raw honey. Thanks so your willingness to teach me, I truly appreciate it.

    • So sorry for the late response! You can make it a quart at a time if you'd like. I like to make a bunch all at once and store it without worrying about it going bad. Raw juice would be the juice before it is cooked. Thank you for visiting!

  2. You caution not to eat the berries raw, why? I used to eat them when I was a kid.They didn't taste as good raw as they did cooked into syrup. We did syrup for a treat, didn't have a clue how good they are for you! Around here the birds get to them faster than me! But this is a wonderful idea should I ever get a head start over them starlings!

    • I just found your blog so I'm not sure which part of the country you are in but I grew up in Maryland. When I was about 5 years old one my of cousins ate these berries (I think it was these as they grew in our grandmom's forest). He was rushed to the hospital and his stomach was pumped. Yikes! I always thought they were poisonous.
      I guess cooking them takes out the poison?

    • There is a toxin in the berry before it is cooked. I don't know if it effects everyone the same but by cooking the juice, it is no longer toxic to us. I wish I could give you more specifics, but, that is all I do know.

    • Hi!
      I'd just like to share what I know about eating Elderberries. We have always eaten them raw. As long as they're ripe, they have been fine for my family.

      However, green fruit and foliage are deadly toxic and should never be ingested.

      Somehow,my hens, and the resident Catbirds, eat both green berries and leaves without ill effects!

      If you make Elderberry wine, I suggest some vinegar.

      For every quart of wine, you add 2 tablespoons of thoroughly shaken organic (for real) Cider vinegar with "Mother"

      Let it go like you would sourcrout,open to the air and covered with cheesecloth.

      After the mother sinks, (a month or a little more) you should have Elderberry wine vinegar.


  3. Thank you for this, especially the pictures to help us identify them. I have bunches over our property and never knew what they were. Blessings, Gin

  4. I happened upon your delightful blog through your you-tube videos on making goat milk soap. Then I found this post. I had just made my first batch of Elderberry syrup last week and picked more yesterday and they are in my freezer waiting for me to find the time to make more. I was planning on making a tincture knowing that the syrup only last 2-3 mths in the fridge. I never gave it a thought to can the syrup. I just want to say thank you for taking the time to share with us the 'how to's' when it comes to being self-sufficient.
    My girls and I are super excited to try our first batch of soap here soon. Although I am going to try a stick blender instead of a stationary one. I'll let you know how it turns out.
    Many blessings to your sweet family,

  5. Hi! This is such an interesting post! I am a new blogger and am blogging on faith and food. I am learning about natural remedies and just started buying elderberry tea. That plant looks familiar. I wonder if there is any around where I live. So do you think you could dry the berries and steep them in tea? Nice to meet you!

  6. I have been giving elderberry syrup to my family all winter too. I live out in the country and I know they have to grow around my house here in Ohio. I have seen similar berries but I am afraid they may not be the right ones. Do you know of anyway I can be sure? I have looked at pics and books, but still don't feel confident. WOuld the county extension office be able to help? I just want to be sure. Thank you.

  7. I can't get fresh elderberries where I live. Could you use dried? I order these and use them, but I'd love to be able to can the syrup and not need to make fresh every time I needed it!

  8. Hi, can you tell me where you found the information on canning time and amount of lemon juice to add? I called Ball Blue Book's hotline, and they had no information on elderberries. Thanks.

  9. I would love to can the syrup however boiling destroys the raw honey. Freezing in small amounts enables you to reap the benefits of both the elderberries & honey. Great post, tho. Thank you!

Comments are closed.