Recipe Ingredients 

  • Elderberry packet (elder berries, astragalus, hibiscus flower, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom)
  • 3 cups cold water – the best, cleanest water you can find.  I use distilled water.
  • ¾ to 1 ½ cups honey (ideally local, unpasteurized)**
  • Optional:  High-proof alcohol***


1.    Add your Elderberry packet to approximately 3 cups cold water in a medium-sized pot.

2.    Heat on moderate heat until you reach a simmer.

3.    Reduce heat to low and allow herbs to gently simmer until the liquid is reduced by approximately half* (35 to 40 minutes).   Stir every 10 minutes or so to make sure all plant matter is still submerged.

4.    Remove from heat and let steep for another hour.

5.    When cooled, squish berries as best you can (I use a potato masher) and, using a cheesecloth or sieve separate out plant matter.  Plant matter can be composted. 

6.    Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible (by hand is fine but I use a potato ricer to maximize how much liquid I extract).You should end up with around 1 ½ cups of liquid.

7.    Once liquid has cooled to room temperature, add 1 ½ to ¾ cup of honey** and stir to incorporate well.

8.    Bottle in sterilized glass and store in fridge for up to 6 months (see notes below).

* This is not a precise thing. You can mark the outside of the pot with a Sharpie to mark the initial depth of liquid.  Then roughly estimate when it has reduced by half.  You can also use a scale, if you wish to be more precise.

** The classic recipe is to add honey equal to half of the remaining liquid (e.g.  1 ½ cups of elderberry liquid, add 1 1/2 cups of honey). This 50/50 ratio is intended to increase shelf-life.   If you prefer a less sweet syrup, for instance a 75/25 ratio,  you can reduce the honey to ¾ cup but keep in mind that you may have a reduced shelf life.

*** Optionally, to extend the shelf-life further you can add 25% (in volume) high proof alcohol (e.g. 200 proof alcohol such as Alcool), if you have it on hand.  Example: If you have 1 ½ cups finished syrup, add 90 ml 94% alcohol.

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