Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

The Recipe:

This is our family recipe, and we think it makes the best elderberry syrup we have ever tasted.

Pick the berries on a dry day,  (I added pieces of ginger before simmering)

You will need:

* Loads of elderberries – get a couple of kilos to begin with (take whole heads and pick them when the weather is dry)

* A bit of ginger (optional)

* 1lb (450g) of sugar per pint of juice- you can use Splenda instead if you are worried about sugar intake (it is very light so follow the instructions which substitute volume for weight….)

* Juice of one lemon per pint of liquid

* 10 cloves per pint of liquid

* A stainless steel pan (don’t use aluminium)

* Glass or food grade plastic bottle(s) with airtight caps

* a funnel (you can just cut the top off a large soft drinks bottle and use that)

* Jelly bag, J-cloths or wine filtering fabric

* A large sieve

* A fork


* Wash the elderberries and drain well. The easiest way to strip them off their heads is to use a large fork. You don’t have to be inch perfect here – just not too much greenery.

* Put the elderberries in a pan – stainless is best, and not aluminium as the berries are acidic and strip the metal – and just cover them with water.

* Bring to the boil and simmer till they are soft (usually 25-30 minutes)

* Strain through a jellybag/J cloth/Sieve. You can bash them about first and squeeze the bag all you like, but don’t use a food processor as the seeds are bitter when broken.

* Then for every pint of liquid add 1lb of sugar, juice of one lemon and 10 cloves

*Return to the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Boil hard for 10 mins and then leave to cool. Fish out the cloves (we just pour it through a sieve).

* Bottle in containers that have been sterilised.

Use sterilised bottles:

  • The microwave, in a pan with a little water to make steam  if they fit! – 1 minute. Remember to remove all metal and paper from the bottles
  • Glass bottles in your oven (load them in when it is cold, and then run it up to about 140C, leave it there for 10-15 minutes and let it cool slowly.
  • Leave them to soak in disinfectant then rinse and run in dishwasher twice on highest setting with no powder.

Save old glass bottles: Olive oil bottles and wine bottles with screw caps are good to fill with syrup.

Unopened and refrigerated or kept in a nice cold place this should keep for years.

Elderberries are ripe in Early Autumn

As I walked into work today I noticed a certain reddening of the elderberries. So the time of elderberry syrup is almost upon us.  Those of you who remember the late, truly great Spike Milligan may recall a mythical invention of his called Snibbo. Snibbo did everything, cleaned floors, cured cancer, took the dog for a walk – you name it.
Elderberry Syrup has some of the same properties. It is a tonic, it works as a cough syrup, it helps the vodka go down, it makes a slightly spicy winter Kir Royale and for all I know it is good for any number of other uses.  Not for cleaning floors though as it is a bit sticky.
However, if you have not tried Elder Berry syrup, do so this autumn.  It is unbelievably good.

More seriously – this is a remedy that has been used for at least the last 400 years.  The syrup is aperient, which means it helps relieve chest troubles, it is a cold preventative (not H1N1 unfortunately, although it probably helps) and undiluted it will  bring on a sweat.

We usually dilute it at about the same rate as Ribena, and then you can add a squeeze of lemon, a drop of brandy or whisky or (according to Laura – elderberry syrup is good with tequila).
Add a little to some red white before dinner.
Drizzle it on Ice Cream.
Drink long with soda water, ice and a sprig of mint during those sweltering summers of ours…. et

Creative Commons License

Elderberry Syrup Recipe by
Frances Bosdari is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
Ashridge Trees

By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.


  1. Lynne Leslie says:

    This is the best elderberry syrup recipe I have found – thank you! Just wish I’d discovered it sooner because I’ve been out today to collect more berries and they’ve nearly all gone already. Must be the hungry birds! Anyway I shall definitely be making it again next year! Thanks again.

  2. jim says:

    Thank you so much. I’m in arid southwestern US–New Mexico–and I’ve got two prolific mexican elderberry trees that just keep producing. I’ve just picked a large bag of ripe berries and I was looking for the right elderberry cordial recipe to try.

  3. Sue Francis says:

    Thanks for the recipe. Am just off to pick the berries off my two Sambucca trees (Black Elderberry as I’m sure you know). Went into a local health food shop last week and gather the black stuff is all the rage at the moment. Apparently it stops the flu virus getting a hold as well as other things too numerous to mention. ‘Worth a try’ thinks I. I’ll let you know if I have a snivel free winter!!

    Thanks again


  4. Neil says:

    Thank you for a great recipe – and I note that you state it may not help against H1N1, well it seems to work as well as Tamiflu according to this scientific paper – “Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro” Bill Roschek Jr.a, Ryan C. Finkb, Matthew D. McMichaela, Dan Lic and Randall S. Alberte (The H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-previous terminfluenzanext term activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®; 0.32 μM) and Amantadine (27 μM).)
    Plus there is already an anti-viral product on the market, thanks to Israeli research, that is made from elderberry. It is called Sambucol. Again, thanks for a great recipe.

  5. Annie says:

    I made some at the weekend …absolutely delicious, thank you so much for the recipe. It is going to be the family’s non-alcoholic drink of choice this Christmas!

  6. diane tyson says:

    To strip the elerberries from the stalks. I freeze the whole lot until good and solid then rub all together and the berries comes off easily. I put on a pair of gloves then a pair of plastic gloves to do this and it works a treat.!!

  7. Lisa says:

    Hi, love the recipe and will be trying it tomorrow as our berries are ripe…is it possible to freeze this cordial? Thanks

    1. Edward says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Ours has never lasted long enough for freezing to be necessary! I have no doubt that if you put it in a plastic bottle with some room for the ice to expand into, it will last indefinitely.

  8. Jan says:

    I did exactly as the recipe said, but it looks like I am going to get jelly instead of syrup.

    The stuff in jars will be ok. The jell in the bottles probably will not come out. What happened I though elderberries were low in pectin? I was dubious about boiing rapidly for 10 mins.

  9. Julia Lee says:

    Just to follow on with the note on the Tamiflu above. I heard that Star Anise was used as the active component in Tamiflu before they found a way of making it synthetically. Perhaps a few star anise added to this reciepe will give it an even greater Star performance in keeping us all well!

  10. Julia Lee says:

    Could I ask if the Stevia acts as well as sugar at being a preservative? Has anyone used Xylotol natural birch sweetner? And again does that preserve? Many thanks

  11. Camilla says:


    I just need to ask one thing about the recipe. What are cloves? Clover, cloves of garlic or what?

  12. Rachael says:

    Can this be canned – waterbath, or are you using “open kettle” here? And I assume you are referring to whole cloves (as opposed to garlic cloves as questioned above). Thanks!

  13. Carol J says:

    I liked the sound of your recipe and we picked loads of berries. So far the syrup is working as it is claimed to do. It’s shifting colds in a dat basically. I’m now a firn believer. It tastes good too!

    Thank you for sharing it.

  14. Lya says:

    Hi there, I’ve just stumbled across this receipe as my elderberries are getting bigger and wanted to be prepared. It sounds really good so I’m going to try it.

    Question: instead of sugar, could I use honey?

    Refering back to the Tamiflu etc, I have used Sambucol for a few years now, also given it to the grandaughter and it really works for us, but it is really expensive, that’s why I want to make my own. I have also heard about the report that Sambucol worked better than Tamiflu for the various flus that we have seen around the last few years.

    1. Edward says:

      Hi Lya, by volume, I’d guess that you’d use about 75% as much honey as you would sugar.
      Honey varies.

      Elderberry grows wild all over the place and it makes a good hedge if it’s planted by itself.
      For berry production, you’d let the plants grow quite tall and hardly trim them.

      To keep it looking like a hedge, the plants could be coppiced.
      A long row of mature plants can be coppiced back, one or more plants per year, to about 4 feet tall.
      If you burn it, the wood is used for bonfires and outdoor fires, it’s too smoky for the house.

      To pick the fruit (or flowers) from a large elderflower hedgerow,
      Have a a tall ladder on each side of the hedge, standing side on.
      Have the people on top of the ladder use a piece of wood with rope to hold the tops of the ladders together.

      With 4 people, 2 on top picking and 2 below with backpacks and plastic tubs for the berries, holding the bottom of the ladder, and everyone to move the ladder along the hedge, you could pick a garden hedge in under an hour.

      No promises on the deadly diseases, but that’s a lot of elderflower syrup and or juice – you can crop half the flowers and save the rest for syrup.

      The farmer up the hill from us has an elderflower hedge that he cuts with a brutal tractor appliance, it makes a fine crop of flowers each year.
      It looks ok in the winter because of the ivy growing on it!

  15. Kate Whorlow says:

    Thanks for the great recipe! I have a cold right now that came on last night 🙁 but have just moved to an area with masses of elderberries in the hedges right now so once hubby is home I’ll be ‘going a picking’ this evening and will make the syrup tonight 😀 love the addition of cloves – even better for my cold and the aching I’m getting with this too! 😀
    Blessings to you for sharing this 🙂 xx

  16. Mrs.josephine Hyde-Hartley says:

    I’m going to try this recipe today.

  17. Mrs.josephine Hyde-Hartley says:

    Yes it’s good..a beautiful colour and all the better for having stirred it with my finger I daresay. The kids love it as a very weak cordial and one said the neat syrup on a spoon is nicer than medicine. The house stinks like a hebalists’ with all those cloves – Thank you very much.

  18. Jessica Hefley says:

    Do you know what the dosage should be for cold/flu for adults and children?

    I used honey in the receipe instead of sugar and the substitution in 1 cup of honey for 1lb of sugar.

  19. Mary Clement New Zealand says:

    Late summer here in New Zealand so have just harvested from the wild trees on our farmlet. great recipe, very easy and tasty. I was taught many years ago to always say this prayer to the tree when harvesting berries or flowers. “old woman give me of thy wood and I will give you some of mine when I am turned in to a tree” thanks

  20. Jim says:

    What would you suggest for bottles? I used wine bottles last year, but they took up a lot of room in the fridge…I was thinking about plastic and storing in the freezer… has anyone tried this? Thanks.

    1. julian says:

      Storing homemade elderflower cordial in the freezer works perfectly. It will keep for a very long time when frozen – certainly until this time next year.

  21. Justine Farnworth says:

    I made this last year and it definitely helped with coughs and colds and gives you a little ‘perk-up’ when you feel under the weather. I stored it in sterilised mini glass bottles in a dark cool place. They were airtight and still fine a year on [only one left]. About to make this years batch 🙂

  22. Jim says:

    Storing this outside a fridge or freezer is possible? Wouldn’t it need some sort of preservative?

    1. julian says:

      When we make up our Elderflower Cordial recipe we use Campden Tablets to kill the yeasts that would otherwise make elderflower cordial ferment. You can buy these in any home brewing shop. Our cordial keeps for years if need be this way.

  23. Jim says:

    How many campden tablets per ounce of syrup? Pretty low concentration?

    1. julian says:

      If you are talking about the elderflower cordial recipe, then one campden tablet per gallon (8 pints, 4.5 litres) is plenty. I would double the dose for elderberry syrup as it is so much thicker.
      Good luck

  24. linda petley says:

    1 tablet per bottle is usually the ideal preservative my cordial has lasted 4 years so far but will be drank this summer hope this helps

  25. liz says:

    My mum used to make syrup every autumn- now I fancy a go. Thanks for this recipe, sounds fab. We used to drink ours with hot water, and I reckon adding a spoonful of manuka honey would be good. I like your addition of ginger- this is a fantastic root, and is good for asthma, aches and pains.

  26. Roy Eastwood says:

    We’ve just opened a bottle made in 2010 to your recipe, still tastes great, hoping for help with a cold that’s just sticking around. ?

    1. Ashridge Nurseries says:

      Good to hear that, Roy. There are many places where elderberries are abundant and accessible to passers-by, so it’s good to remind people that you can make as much syrup as you can store, because it ages well.

      We can’t give medical advice, but we reckon that if someone is ill and drinks Elderberry Syrup, they will feel better than they did without it.
      Colds were around before I was a kid, so I’d say they are sticking around for sure, but get well soon and (allegedly) drink more Elderberry Syrup in future to stay cold free.

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