Saturday, August 7, 2010

Elderberry syrup

It is time for elderberry syrup again. I cannot praise this lovely berry and the syrup made from it enough. I just love it.
I watch with anticipation as the lovely elderflower, which I love more each year, turn into tiny green berries, I then keep an eye on them each week as they slowly plump up and turn first red and then brown and finally a dark dark blue or black. It is hard to describe the excitement I feel, perhaps it has to do with my love for autumn (because I know when these berries start to ripen fall is around the corner, although there is certainly no sign of autumn here yet), or the joy it gives me to gather something by hand and make it into something delicious which will then help my children weather the changing seasons with a stronger immune system, or perhaps I simply feel this way each and every time mother nature brings me what I need for the season ahead, I know I feel the same excitement in spring when I gather my first batch of nettles, 
whatever it is I love it!!
Each year when these lovely berries start to ripen we journey out to gather them for syrup.
We all gather together

We started on one bush/tree and filled this small basket, then found another tree full of ripe berries and had to get a bag from the car to gather in.
such abundance

Once at home we set to work separating the berries from the stems.
The children usually help for a while, and I finish up. This is indeed a labour of love, it takes a long time to separate each berry from the stem, yet I enjoy it fully, a meditative task and my quiet time..
And once finished I had a bowl full of berries, some berries on top in this photo look a little red, these will be separated out when I wash them. You must only use the dark blue/black berries!
Kaleena really enjoys the washing, it feels so wonderful to move the hands around in the water and berries. The berries that are not yet ripe enough will float to the top, if they are in the top layer of the bowl, and are then easy to skim off.
After washing I put the berries ( dried berries can also be used) in a pot and cover with water, I add about half an inch over the berries, and simmer them for about an hour. Then I mush them much like you would when making jam
strain out the pulp, and squeeze all remaining juice out
pour in a jar
add raw honey to taste, quite a bit as the syrup can otherwise be a bit bitter
and label, which is always a good idea, 
when you have all kinds of home cooked concoctions in the fridge:)
These will keep at least 3 months in the fridge. (which reminds me I need to add a date to my label)
I give this as a supplement by the spoonful to the children and myself in these weeks leading up to the change in season, I give it also as an immune booster. The berries are powerful antioxidants, full of vitamins A, B and C, as well as amino acids. For more info look here. I like to keep the syrup on hand all winter, and give it at the first sign of a cold or flu. When I have an abundant supply like now, and it is hot, like now, I also use it as juice, and serve it over ice in a mixture of half water half syrup. 
So delicious!!!
~May you have an abundant supply of these little black pearls~
~with gratitude~


  1. What a beautifully illustrated tutorial! Even the stems piled up behind the bowl are a feast for the eyes. My sister and her husband are both naturopathic doctors and they typically give us all elderberry syrup as a holiday gift -- I'll appreciate it more now knowing how much work it is.

  2. I'm planning to make some this year. It doesn't seem much more complicated than jam making. Thanks for sharing. Such a beautiful colour.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I was really upset to have missed the elder flowers this year, so am thrilled that I can use the berries instead! I will keep an eye on ours, and refer to your recipe for this in a few weeks once they ripen.

  4. We love to make this too. Our elderberries are not ripe yet on our farm. I keep checking on them! What a great tutorial you put together.
    Best wishes

  5. This sounds great, i dont know if the berries grow in australia, ill do some research because id love to make some syrup

  6. this is begging for pancakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    beautiful pictures!

  7. look at all those elderberries!! how divine. did you find these in the wild? i have never drank it on ice before. that looks delish!

  8. Thanks for sharing - I am trying to find some here in New Zealand and grow some _ it is spring here now so a good time to plant I am sure.

  9. That looks so delicious - love your photos, you'll have everyone wanting to try elderberry syrup. ;-) Our elderberries aren't ripe yet but I was noticing some big bunches down by the lake yesterday are almost ready. I have a steam juicer this year so I am going to try using that for some of the berries as well.

  10. ohhh, how wonderful! I simply adore your photography. Absolutely stunning! I have yet to find elderberries around here. Heck, I don't even know if they grow here in Northern VA. My mother used to give us elderberry syrup when we were sick as kids. That would be a wonderful supplement for my children to keep them healthy. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Rae, I did find some in the wild and others in Marshall by our old house.
    There is a lot in Carrier park:)

    Abbie, i am sure they grow in northern VA, I saw some in i VA on a recent trip:)

  12. Oh how lucky you are to have elderberries growing where you are! We only have pokeweek which is poisonous and looks a lot like elderberry - whoops! But we always order some syrup off etsy to ward off the winter bugs.

  13. Now I have to go looking for some elderberries. I know we have it here, and I would love to make my own syrup rather than buying it!

  14. It looks delicious. What hard workers you have too!

  15. Wow, this was so beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to post about makes me a little jealous that we don't have an elderberry bush near by.

  16. I just made this - it is delicious, I did a slightly different version, but thanks for the inspiration! x

  17. beautiful tutorial. you take such lovely photos. in fact, i really love all your tutorials! xx

  18. Elderberry syrup is divine and amazing for your immune system, we love it:) Thanks for sharing your process:)

  19. yum....i love the labels you designed!
    such a beautiful and meaningful task!

  20. you are awesome... what i love most about your post on elderberry syrup is you have shown us what an elderBERRY looks like!! so many never show the bush/ tree/ fruit. and i would not know ...but now i do. it looks a bit like a butterfly bush, no? ive never done this but want to. hear it is great for colds. love xo
    ps. JAN my beloved sewing machine ! :)

  21. Wow, reading your blog posts really makes me wish we lived somewhere that I could just go out and find food growing naturally everywhere like the persimmons and elderberries. Here in the part of Florida I live in, there's nothing like the fresh abundance you have. So lovely. =)


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