February 9, 2022

How to Shorten Colds with a Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe

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Homemade elderberry syrup has a ton of benefits, including shortening the length of colds! You can make this elderberry syrup recipe at home for way cheaper than store-bought with just four ingredients: dried elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and honey.

This elderberry syrup recipe is easily stored in the fridge for up to 3 months

Homemade elderberry syrup is one of my favorite things to keep in the house. We try to take 1 tablespoon most days (sometimes we forget or run out), and a little extra when one of us is feeling a little under the weather. Marina caught a little cold this weekend (probably from the pool we started going to ). So I thought I’d write a post about how to make it. Store-bought elderberry syrup is absurdly expensive so this recipe will save you a ton of money! And it’s easy! I’m all for convenience and this, I can do.

Elderberries are packed with antioxidants and have been used for their medicinal properties since Ancient Greece over a thousand years ago. Although more research is needed (because when don’t we need more research?), several clinical studies have shown that people recover more quickly from colds and the flu when taking an elderberry supplement. Obviously, we can never be 100% sure (that’s science for ya), but what we know so far is good enough for me! So I’ll take it and give it to my kids, too. 

Don’t just take my word for it, go ahead and ask your doctor or functional medicine practitioner about it. It’s the best! You can also channel your inner Hermoine Granger and read up on the benefits of elderberry syrup here, here, and here.

And if you’re ready to get crackin’…

Here’s what your need:

  • ¾ cup dried organic elderberries. I buy this bulk bag from Amazon. It’s organic, it’s cheap, and will last you a long time.
  • 1 tablespoon or 1 inch fresh or frozen ginger. I’m more liberal with my ginger, I add about 2-3 tablespoons, but some people don’t like that. You can also use 1 tsp ginger powder. Pro tip: I buy a bunch of ginger, wash and dry it, then store it in my freezer so that we always have “fresh” ginger on hand for this and other recipes. I leave the skin on. 
  • 1 cinnamon stick. Or 1 tsp cinnamon powder. I like using Ceylon cinnamon because it’s a bit higher in antioxidants than regular ole cinnamon (who the heck knew there was a difference, right?)
  • 3 cups water. 
  • 1 cup raw honey. Lately, I’ve been buying this brand because it’s pretty local to New Jersey and it’s a big bottle. We blow through honey quickly in this house. Honestly, I’m considering starting a bee hive in our backyard for that reason. Honey itself has amazing health benefits, too, and gives this recipe its “syrup” consistency. It also makes it a bit more palatable for kids since elderberries alone are pretty bitter.
All you need for this elderberry syrup recipe are dried elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, water, and honey

How to Make

  1. Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and water to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once it’s boiling, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes. 
Bring the elderberries to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes
The ginger and cinnamon add additional benefits and flavor to this elderberry syrup recipe.
  1. After the time is up, use a wooden spoon to press the elderberries against the saucepan to get more of the juice out. Then allow to cool.
  2. Once completely cool, strain the liquid into a glass container and add 1 cup of raw honey. 
  3. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

I take 1 tablespoon daily and give my kids, Marina (3) and Forest (1) 1 tsp most days.

Options & Substitutions

The cinnamon and ginger are a great complement to the elderberries and add some antioxidants of their own, but you can totally switch it up if they’re not your thing. Here’s what you can add instead:

Instead of cinnamon:

  • 6 whole cloves
  • Rind of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp camu camu

Once elderberry water is cool you can add:

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Instead of honey, you could also substitute the same amount with maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave, although you’ll get more health benefits by using honey.
  • Another option for honey would be to replace with ½ cup coconut sugar

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Homemade elderberry syrup has a ton of benefits, including shortening the length of colds! You can make it at home for way cheaper than store-bought with just four ingredients: dried elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and honey.

  • cheesecloth OR
  • strainer
  • 3/4 cup dried organic elderberries
  • 1 tbsp or 1 inch fresh or frozen ginger (I'm a bit more liberal with my ginger. Use to your taste!)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup raw honey
  1. Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and water to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

  2. Once it’s boiling, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes.

  3. After the time is up, use a wooden spoon to press the elderberries against the saucepan to get more of the juice out. Then allow to cool.

  4. Once completely cool, strain the liquid into a glass container and add 1 cup of raw honey.

  5. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Mediterranean

On a related note, all of Marina's nose-blowing has led to a pretty raw red nose. It's part of having a cold, unfortunately. It hurts her to blow her nose or even “scrunch my face” as she says, and it hurts me to look at!

One thing I do to heal it up more quickly is to apply a dab of Beautycounter's Cleansing Balm a few times throughout the day. It's a godsend!! I've used it on everything from cuts to burns to chapped skin to frizzy hair. It's truly an all-in-one product. Plus, Beautycounter's standards are über clean so I know it's safe to use on my kiddos. They're the only beauty company to third-party test for safety at 23 endpoints — during sourcing, production and post-production. That's one they're one of the few “clean” companies I actually trust! I'll post an update here in a few days so you can see the difference!

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