I’ve tried several, but with my own tweaking, I’ve come up with what I feel is the best dried elderberry syrup recipe. If you have fresh elderberries, I’ll share how to use those too. I don’t have an elderberry bush nearby, so I rely on dried elderberries. You can find dried elderberries at Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Herbs, and Frontier. It takes almost two weeks to get an order from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I recently found that Frontier has most of their products on Amazon. I’ve got Prime, so it takes only two days to get what I’m needing! (the last time I checked a few days ago in 2018, Mountain Rose Herbs was out of Elderberries!)
NOW is the time to start buying your stock of Elderberry though. When it’s gone for the season, it’s very hard to find quality Elderberry.
The Best Dried Elderberry Syrup Recipe
I buy my herbs in bulk for projects like this. These were purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs, but I also buy from Amazon. I’m very picky about my herbs though. They need to be organic, but I also have to trust the company. I’ve been burned before buying things from Amazon that were less than quality, related to herbs.
You will need dried elderberries (unless you are blessed to have access to fresh elderberry); cinnamon sticks, bark, or chips; and cloves. From the grocery you will need fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and bottled water. I purchase my honey raw from a local grower, but you can also find that on Amazon.
I measured and added the dried elderberries, cinnamon chips (is what I had), and cloves to my stainless steel pot. (do not use aluminum) I chopped up the garlic and fresh ginger, then added in my water.
This is then brought to a boil, and reduced to a gentle simmer. I let it simmer until the mixture has reduced by about 1/2. This is called a decoction.
I then use this potato ricer to make sure I’m getting all the juicy goodness out.
Next you add the honey, and stir well. I add this mixture to a large mason jar, and keep it stored in my fridge. I drink a “shot” (about an oz) daily, or more if I have cold symptoms. Sometimes it turns into a loose jellied type of mixture. I just shake it well.
1 Cup Dried Elderberries (2 cups fresh)
5-6 Whole cloves (you can crush those a little if you like, because you will be straining this out)
Fresh Garlic (I love a lot , but you can start with 3-4 cloves)
Fresh Ginger (I love a lot of this, but start with about a fingers length, chopped or cut up)
4-5 cups bottled water
Raw Honey (around 2 cups)
Place all in a stainless steel pot. Bring to boil, and then reduce heat to moderate, to a simmer. Let this cook down about 1/2. Mash the mixture a little bit with a fork or other kitchen utensil after the berries start getting soft.
After the liquid has reduced, then carefully start straining the mixture. I love to use the potato ricer because it gets all the juice out. Be very careful with it though. You can let the mixture cool just a little, but not all the way. You want the honey to mix well.
After you get this all strained, measure, and add equal amounts of honey. This should make about 4 cups of Elderberry syrup. Store in a large mason jar, and keep in your refrigerator.
This is awesome to use as pancake syrup too! It goes along with my philosophy of letting food be your medicine!
Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
I will just share as a nurse, I’m pretty sure there are not any double blinded studies related to the benefits of elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup has been used for years by herbalists as a way to nurture the body with ingredients full of anti-oxidants and immune support.
Benefits of using elderberries may include being supportive for the immune system, help with inflammation issues, reduce symptoms and time to heal after contracting a cold or flu, supportive for sinus issues, allergies, and constipation. (this does not take the place of consulting your medical doctor, and is in no way attempting to diagnosis or provide treatment guidelines)
The Sloan Kettering Memorial Site which provides wonderful information on all types of herbal use shares there have been limited studies to suggest elderberries may reduce flu and cold symptoms.
Safety issues are to never use elderberries uncooked as they contain compounds that may promote cyanide toxicity. So you ALWAYS need to cook your elderberries. Other cautions are to avoid if you have autoimmune issues, are on antidiabetic medications, or are on a diuretic or laxative (as the elderberries may increase the action of those medications). Also a caution that pregnant or lactating women have a potential for a gastrointestinal distress.
Of course you also need to look for any allergic reaction when introducing a new food into your system. There was a case reported of 11 people getting nausea and vomiting from a juice made with the elderberries, but they had juiced and injected RAW elderberries and leaves. So, do not make juice from raw berries and drink it. Must be cooked.
All in all, this is an awesome way to add nourishment through food!
It’s one of my favorites, and I always have it made up in my fridge! I keep this on hand year round. Buying the supplies as I listed, (getting the elderberries in bulk), you will have enough supplies to last all fall and winter. I make another batch up as soon as we are out!
I thought long and hard about this name, Apothecary Nurse™. I’ve studied about herbal remedies for over 30 years. It’s only been within the past 12 years I’ve really studied aromatherapy. Years ago an apothecary was a place where medicines were compounded from plant material and sold to physicians, surgeons and patients. The word apothecary has roots in Greek and Latin.
I really liked the name as I thought about my personal philosophy of health and healing. I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 27 years now. It is nice to have knowledge and roots in Modern Medicine as well as a passion to understand how man has used plants since the beginning of time for health and healing.
Why I call Myself Apothecary Nurse™
I don’t make “medications” for anyone. That would be out of my scope of practice as a nurse. When I think of the term “Apothecary”, I think of an old timey pharmacy where remedies were compounded by the pharmacist, and many used raw plant material. Some modern-day pharmacies who compound medication, have the word “apothecary” in their store name.
Since modern medicine in the Western world as we know it appeared and really escalated in the early 1900’s; plant remedies began to take a backseat in the United States. There have been great discoveries no doubt with modern medicine. I also believe food is our medicine. That can go both ways. Food can also be our poison.
I’m very intrigued with the study of plant medicine. The study and philosophy of herbalism is much different from med school or nursing school. What disturbs me is the study of herbalism is often disregarded by physicians or even nurses who think it holds no place in our modern society.
The Apothecary Nurse™ name fits me. My goal is to provide education for nurses and people who would like to be more integrative in their approach to health and healing. In today’s society, many patients use herbal and aromatic support. Even if health care professionals aren’t personally interested in using such integrative support, it’s a good idea to understand what your patient/client is using.
Ezekiel 47:12 says: “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” Herbalism is basically using food as our medicine.
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. — Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C
My goal is two-fold: 1) to provide education to those who want to learn how plants, herbal remedies and aromatic support can be integrated into care, and 2) provide education for nurses who want to know more about what their patients are using. I do not diagnose, treat, give medical advice, or prescribe medical treatments. I do not take the place of your medical practitioner.
Herbalism is the study of plants and their support of the body. Many civilizations today still strictly practice herbalism. Herbalism approaches illness more as an imbalance and not a collection of symptoms. Symptoms aren’t a disease. Symptoms are a tip-off that something isn’t right in the body.
So, as Apothecary Nurse™, I’ll be sharing case studies, historical use, recipes, remedies, some scientific data, and most importantly: I want you to fall in love with the plants and learn how to safely integrate care!
I will also incorporate other nourishing teachings like Aromatic Healing, Food as Medicine, Nursing without Medicine, Nourishing Traditions concepts, and Plant-Based Eating. Influential medical healers in my life include physicians like Aviva Romm, MD, and Tieraona Low Dog, MD. Both realize the importance of plants, food, and holistic principles related to whole person health and healing.
Joyce Harrell, RN, OCN
Apothecary Nurse (TM)
I took the cover picture at an organic herb farm in Belgium, in July of 2016.
Have you ever wondered how easy it is to make lavender oil at home? I’m talking about lavender infused oil, not essential oil. I love to make infused oils from plant material. I used to infuse organic plant material in an oil base using a cold method. This process took me 6-8 weeks, and I’m not a patient person.
How To Make Lavender Oil At Home
*Instructions and pictures coming soon!
By the way, the lavender picture…I took that last year on my trip to Europe. This was at an Organic Hydrosol Farm in Belgium!