jewels, caviar…no, it’s elderberries

Ah yes, the great elderberry.  These tough little beauties are true immune boosting cold fighting machines…read more here.  But did I mention, they are delicious as well…

As the story goes, I was first exposed to this delightful little Sambucus nigra  during my stint as an intern at Moonstone Farm.  The great Audrey, co-owner of Moonstone, had me dappling in syrups, cordials, juice even the dried berries.  I was instantly hooked.  Upon returning to my families home, I immediatly made an order for the shrubs in the winter of 2010 and in spring 2011, 6 beautiful twigs arrived.

Now, in their 2nd year, the twigs are huge bushes that are loaded with berries. And when there is abundance…what else to do but can!

Below are images and further on is the recipe for Elderberry Syrup.



To begin, first you must de-stem the berries.  (This can take a VERY long time…but it’s so worth it!)

De-stemming means not having any stems on the elderberries and taking out any green berries, which will taint the syrup.

Now, we crush the berries add a small amount of water and boil the heck out of them for about 10 minutes.

Stir occasionally to prevent sorching

Now we drain the little buggers through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth

Once the elderberries have been strained, you must take the cheese cloth and suspend it from something for an hour to allow the rest of the juice to be extracted.

Once all the juice is strained you return the juice to a clean stainless steel pot and bring to a boil and then to a simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until slightly syrupy.  When it’s reached your desired syrupiness, then you add a sweetener.  (I used honey but you can use sugar too).

After the addition of the sweetener, place in hot sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath with your canner for 10 minutes.

Remove from the hot water bath and set away from drafts and anticipate that lovely pop sound that means your jars are sealed!


Elderberry Syrup

Makes approx. 3.5 pints

1.5 lb of de-stemmed elderberries (greenies/unripe berries discarded)

 1 cup of honey or 2 cups of sugar


Rinse elderberries in water and pour into a large stainless steel pot.  Mash them with the back of a ladle, potato masher or other smooshing device.

Add about a cup of water to the berries and bring the pot to a boil.  Stir often and boil rapidly for approximately 10 minutes.

Next, strain the elderberries through a sieve lined with cheese cloth to strain out the juice.  Once fairly drained take the cheese cloth and berries and suspend over a bowl and let the berries drain for about an hour.

Now, return the juice to a clean stainless steel pot and bring the juice to a boil.  Boil for approximately 10 minutes and then add the honey.  Turn off the heat and pour into cleaned, sterilized jars.  Put on lids and seal through a ten minute hot water bath.

After 10 minutes remove from bath and wait for the lids to pop to ensure you have a seal for shelf stability.

Eat and enjoy in drinks, over shaved ice, or drizzled over pancakes!


5 responses to “jewels, caviar…no, it’s elderberries

  1. As always, you make beautiful photos and entertaining text. I also love elderberries infused in vodka. fill the jar twice–first with berries, then with vodka. Phenomenal color after a few months.

  2. As delicious as the syrup is, don’t forget it is also an herbal medicine. Research has shown that elder berries are strongly anti-viral. Add elderberry syrup, a tablespoon at a time, to tea when you have a cold. Great for kids with colds! Works better than antibiotics. Take one dose three to four times a day.

    • Indeed Patricia! I use an elderberry tincture, which is the berries steeped in alcohol, twice a day to prevent sickness and keep me healthy. (you probably know about this, but for those that don’t…more info!) I make sure to do this especially during the cold and flu season when catching something is almost inevitable!

  3. If you freeze the berries and destem as frozen, it is much easier and faster. You can use a regulate eating fork to pull the berries off the stem or just use your hands.

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