Jen Oh

Elderberries – nature’s cold medicine

For years when people complain they have colds- I tell them about elderberries. It’s our go to cold remedy and immune booster. I give elderberries to family and friends and make them syrup too. It’s easy to make and it prevents us from getting sick. If we are sick, it helps us improve in half the time as it normally takes. Plus, making elderberry syrup is easy, cheap, and I know exactly what’s in it.

I’ve never been one to take medicine. I hate feeling groggy and foggy. So, I rely on foods and herbs to help heal us. Elderberries are our first line of defense. There are tons of studies and articles about the properties of elderberries. During the winter, we each take a spoonful of elderberry syrup as often as possible and, if we’re sick, a spoonful or 2 a day- until we feel better.

To make elderberry syrup is easy and requires little of your time. I add rose hip to my elderberries, to add a boost of vitamin c and to prevent a cytokine storm. Cytokine storms are when your immune system goes on overload. It is pretty serious and may occur with ANY immune booster, medication, or vaccination. In fact, most of the research I found was on flu vaccines causing cytokine storms in persons – particularly the H1N1 vaccination, read about it here. To minimize the possibility of a cytokine storm, you will want to increase your vitamin C and D. Here’s a great forum post explaining what to do.

To make elderberry syrup, I take a quart mason jar and fill it with roughly 1 cup of elderberries and 1/2 cup of rose hips. I tend to use the measurement markers on the side of the jar (less dishes to have to do in the end!).

Add 4 cups of boiling water (or to the top of the quart mason jar) and allow to steep for a minimum of 4 hrs or overnight. I loosely cover the jar – to prevent anything from falling in.

Strain – squeezing the liquid out of the elderberries and rose hips. DO NOT EAT THE ELDERBERRIES!!! You only want the juice from them. The elderberries are hard to digest and may cause you to get sick.

Simmer the elderberry/rose hip liquid until half reduced. No stirring needed. Just try not to let it boil as it doesn’t taste as good. Once the liquid is reduced by half – it’s done! Take off the heat and add honey to taste (about 1/4 cup for us). Try to use local honey – it will add to the medicinal power of your elderberry syrup and don’t let the honey cook. It reduces the effectiveness of honey when you cook it.  Sometimes, I throw some ginger root in the elderberry/rose hip liquid while it’s simmering – to give it an additional immune boost. But that’s optional.

I then put the elderberry syrup in a jar and store it in the fridge. My final syrup is a little under a pint. I rarely actually measure anything – so the amount fluctuates, but has always fit in a pint mason jar in the end. I give everyone spoonfuls when needed. It can last for at least 2 weeks. You can also add a little brandy, rum, etc to help extend the life of your syrup. Or You can freeze it and defrost when needed. I know some people who freeze it into ice cubes to store – so they always have a little when they need it.

I get organic elderberries for around $9/lb and the organic rose hip for about $5 for a 1/2 lb. I can make at least 4-5 batches of elderberry syrup out of it. At the store, elderberry syrup can cost between $10-15 a bottle, has extra ingredients, and doesn’t taste as good. There is so little work in making elderberry syrup and it’s a cheap and easy way to stay healthy. I am so thankful for the Holistic Moms Network member for letting me know how to make my own and I hope you try it too!



  1. Jessica

    Dear Jen,

    Thanks for the excellent step-by-step prep information for Elderberry syrup. In the midst of cold season I can’t wait to try it. Thanks!


  2. Pingback: Elderberries | Celebrity Diet and Weight Loss Blog

Comments are closed.