Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Make elderberry syrup in the comfort of your home to boost your immunity.

| June/July 2020

Only a few days remained before my first batch of homemade kombucha would be ready to drink. The growing anticipation of trying my finished kombucha, a drink I had previously just purchased from the grocery store, felt empowering, and I wanted to further customize the fizzy kombucha with some type of flavoring. At the time, I was reading John Moody’s The Elderberry Book: Forage, Cultivate, Prepare, Preserve and I decided that elderberry syrup would provide a healthy and delicious flavoring to the kombucha.

Photo by Getty Images/madeleinesteinbach

After reading about the health benefits of elderberry and its potential for boosting immune systems, I bought an elderberry syrup kit with organic sugar from the Mother Earth News Store to make in my tiny kitchen at home. Knowing that the elderberries in this syrup kit were organic put my mind at ease and assured me that I wouldn’t be ingesting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or unknown chemicals.

My curiosity about the elderberry was piqued, and I reached out to John Moody for more information about this ancient plant. Moody was quick to acknowledge the historical significance of the entire elder plant, saying, “When most people in America think of the elder, they think of the elderberry, and that’s basically where it ends for them — elderberry syrup, elderberry wine, elderberry supplements. Until very recently, it was the rest of the plant that was primarily thought of as medicine.” When the ancient Greeks and Romans used elder for medicinal purposes, they were primarily focused on the leaves and roots, and not necessarily on the berry. “You’re probably going to start with the berries, but there’s so much that this plant has to offer,” Moody said.

When visiting the health food store across the street from my house, I’ve seen a number of different elderberry syrup products offered, so I asked Moody whether there’s anything specific I should watch out for with those products. He replied, “A lot of shelf-stable, store-bought elderberry products are full of low-quality ingredients and sugars. Even ones that have honey on the label will usually have a small bit of honey, so it can confuse consumers, and then it’ll have other sugars.”




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