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Crafting Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are one of the most easily identifiable fruits of Autumn, and they can found often in great abundance, making them a very useful and versatile wild edible. Classic Elderberry Syrup should be a cupboard essential for Winter, a simple recipe which brings a great many health benefits at just the right time.

Elderberries are medicinally known for their antioxidants and immune boosting properties; it has been used for thousands of years as a herbal medicine, and can be bought dried or in a syrup form in most health food stores as a remedy for coughs, colds and flu. The berries contain twice as much vitamin C as oranges and as much as three times the amount of antioxidants as blueberries.

Almost ripe elderberries hanging from an elder tree.

While the berries of the Elder tree are considered safe to eat, apart from the flowers, the rest of the tree is classified as mildly toxic if eaten as it contains cyanide. This includes the leaves, stems and seeds, so you should try to remove as much of the stems from your berries as possible before using them. They're also incredibly bitter which is not something you want to be adding to your recipe! The seeds are quite large and difficult to remove without destroying the berries completely, so its generally a good idea to cook them first before eating as this neutralises the toxins in the seeds, making them safer to eat.

To read more about foraging for Elderberries, how to identify them, and how to find them, you can head over to my post 'Foraging for Elderberries' here.

a wicker basket full of dark ripe elderberries

While you can enjoy their herbal and nutritional benefits from store bought and processed Elderberries, there is nothing quite like foraged locally, and brewed at home Elderberry Syrup. Its made and preserved with only three ingredients, and crafted with basic techniques. This recipe is for a simple Elderberry syrup, but I have made this before and added a few wintery spices like star anise and cloves, which it gives it a flavour not unlike mulled wine, but obviously without the fire of alcohol!

I tend to use Elderberry syrup to make a simple tea, just by adding a teaspoon or two to a mug of freshly boiled water, but its also a welcome morning boost drizzled over porridge or pancakes too. I've not tried it myself, but I've also been told it makes a very good mixer with gin too.

a bottle of homemade, foraged elderberry syrup


Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients 200g elderberries approx. 1l water Granulated sugar

  1. Wash and prepare the fruit by gently removing the berries from their stalks, discarding as much of the stalks as possible. Add the berries, spices and water to a pan, and bring to a boil.

  2. Simmer for around 20 - 30 minutes, stirring to evenly mix the spices.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and gently mash the berries with a fork or potato masher. Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth and leave it to drip through.

  4. Weigh the strained liquid and the sugar. A ratio of 1:1 is needed, so for every 100 grams of liquid you’ll need to add 100 grams of sugar. Add them both to a clean pan.

  5. Prepare and sterilise your glass bottles or jars at this stage to make sure that they are still hot when the warm liquid is added.

  6. Warm the mixture over a medium heat, stirring continuously until all of the sugar has dissolved.

  7. Bring to the boil, and then lower the heat slightly, letting it simmer until it reaches a syrupy consistency. This could take about 20 minutes or more.

  8. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the syrup into sterilised bottles and seal.

Wild Crafting Elderberry Syrup



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


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