Elderberry Syrup Recipe

best elderberry recipe

The Elder is my most favourite of trees.  In the summer they bloom with the most delicious flowers which can be used in a whole manner of ways (try this boozy elderflower cordial recipe!).  And then in Autumn they offer up another tasty bounty when they positively drip with elderberries, which are also delicious when cooked (but do see my safety note below before you eat any).

Elderberries are in season from, depending on where you are, roughly mid-September to mid-October.  The little black berries pack a mighty punch – they are rich in Vitamin A and B, and are richer in Vitamin C than oranges, making them a great natural cold and flu remedy.  Last winter I was plagued with the cold and flu, so this year I thought I’d make an elderberry syrup to to help ward off any pesky bugs over this coming winter.  I added some extra vitamin C in the form of oranges and lemons just for good measure.

You won’t find elderberries in the shops – you’ll have to go out and pick your own – but luckily the countryside is bursting with elderberries at the moment.    Just get out there with a bag and a pair of scissors and snip bunches of the blackest juiciest berries you can find.  It’s pretty easy to spot them, but if you’re unsure ask a local expert.

what do elderberries look like

My freshly picked and de-stalked elderberries

First, a very important word of warning – elderberries. their stems and their leaves are toxic when raw, so don’t be tempted to eat any whilst you pick.  They contain cyanide and can cause sickness.  Thankfully when you cook the berries they lose their toxicity, so you’re safe with this recipe as it calls for the berries and their juice to be cooked twice!

Picking the berries for your elderberry syrup recipe is the easy part.  Once you’ve picked your berries you’ll need to remove them from their stalks.  The best way to do this is to comb through the stalks with a fork into a bowl.  When you’ve removed all the berries from the stalks you’ll find that quite a few berries still have little stalks on them. Unfortunately these have to be removed too, along with any unripe berries. This is quite a long and tedious job – it took me the best part of an hour going through all the berries with a fine tooth comb, but do persevere as the elderberry syrup is well worth this initial toil.

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

best elderberry syrup recipe

Delicious Spiced Elderberry Syrup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Delicious Spiced Elderberry Syrup

This deliciously spiced elderflower cordial can be served in a multitude of ways - drizzled into oatmeal/porridge, diluted in hot water for a warming drink, served with soda, and more. What's more, it's got amazing cold and flu prevention properties!


  • Fresh elderberries (as many as you can pick - I filled one carrier bag)
  • A lemon
  • An orange
  • Brown sugar (muscovado or demerara)
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Sterilised glass bottles and tops.


  1. Give your berries a good wash, and cover yourself up with an apron or wear old clothes as the berries can stain like mad.
  2. Next place your berries in a stainless steel pan with half of their volume of water, and simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t allow to boil or you’ll remove some of the goodness from the berries. While they are simmering it’s good to give them a mash with a stainless steel potato masher or the back of a metal spoon to help release the berry juices. Don’t use wooden utensils unless you want them to be stained purple forever more!
  3. Pass the mixture through a fine stainless steel sieve into a bowl, and allow to sit for 15 minutes or so to allow all of the liquid to drip out. Use a metal spoon to push down on the berries to ensure as much water and juice is pressed out of the berries:
  4. Measure your elderberry liquid – for every 500ml of liquid you have add 250g of sugar, a few slices of lemon, a few slices of orange, a few cloves and one cinnamon stick to a stainless steel pan, and then add your liquid.
  5. Stir and then let simmer for 20 minutes (my kitchen smelled like Christmas at this point, it was amazing!) and then pass it through the sieve to remove the fruit, cinnamon and cloves.
  6. Place in a sterilised glass bottle (I filled a 500ml bottle) and enjoy whenever you feel a cold coming on or just when you fancy it. I would serve diluted with hot water as a tasty winter warmer. It has a lovely earthy flavour, and the spice and citrus give it that extra sweet edge:


This winter I also plan on enjoying the elderberry syrup as a hot toddy with a shot of whisky and hot water!  I’m looking forward to that on a cold evening, let me tell you!  Alternatively you could drizzle over plain yoghurt or porridge, or even over ice-cream or pancakes.  The possibilities of the syrup are endless!  I’m going to make at least double the amount of elderberry syrup next year as we polished ours off pretty quickly!

Will you be elderberry picking this weekend?

Save Energy With One Simple Step #10

Are you missing the weekly Save Energy With One Simple Step posts?  I was, and seeing as it’s Thursday I thought it would be a good day to share with you my tip number 10 in this now occassional saving energy series.

As always, all my tips for saving energy are really easy to do, without the need to buy the latest gadget or technology, and so won’t cost you any money.  In fact you’ll save money at the same time as saving energy, which is always good!

So, without further ado, here’s a good easy energy saving tip for you:

ways to save energy

Defrost your freezer, especially if it’s looking a bit glacier like in there.

I know it’s a total pain in the bum to do.  We did it last week, and without the luxury of a second freezer to store the food in, it meant that in the run up to the big defrost we had to eat everything up that was in the freezer.  We unearthed 40 (yes, forty, thanks to an internet shopping mix up!) vegetable fingers that we had to eat up.  Now I don’t think I can look at another vegetable finger without feeling more than a litte nauseous.

It needed doing though – frost buildup in your freezer increases the amount of work your freezer’s motor has to do, which means it’s using more energy.  Keeping it fairly frost free means savings for you and the environment.

My tips on how to defrost a freezer are quite straightforward – you’ll need lots of towels to protect your floor and a dish shallow enough to sit under the freezer’s drainage spout that you’ll be prepared to empty frequently.  I’m also a fan of placing bowls of hot water inside the freezer to help move things along a bit.  My last, most essential piece of advice is, however tempting it may be, do not under any circumstances hack at the ice with a knife, hammer or anything else.  Instead have patience and just leave the ice to melt, rather than risk puncturing your freezer pipes.

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