Want to help strengthen you and your family’s immune systems during this cold & flu season, while also saving money?  Try my homemade Elderberry Syrup recipe that has less sugar and preservatives than the store-bought brands, but also is 8 times cheaper!

As our days get shorter and the weather gets colder, we see an upswing of never-ending viruses being passed around, recycled, and on a constant rotation in our homes, schools, and work.  Prevention is obviously key in trying to minimize its impact on our lives, which requires regular hand washing, sneezing into your sleeves versus your hands, lowering your processed foods and sugar intake, healthy sleep habits, staying home when you are sick to prevent spreading the virus, and regular exercise.  

However, what do you do when your coworker comes to work with a full-blown cold?  Or when your child’s classroom has the communal runny nose which is so overpowering that the teachers give-up on handing out Kleenexes?   Or, god-forbid, you are one of those poor teachers surrounded by the mini balls-of-mucus, dodging sneezes and coughs like Neo in the movie The Matrix (am I now dating myself?)?   The best answer would be for us to hibernate like bears and wait until the cold/flu season is over so we come out unscathed, but unfortunately that is not an option for any of us.

One of the things we do in our home is our daily dose of homemade Elderberry Syrup, which is a potent berry full of flavonoids.  Flavonoids boost the immune system, lower inflammation and swelling.  Studies have shown that elderberries, also known as Sambucus, can cut the duration of the influenza virus by more that 50% as well as help fight against the H1N1 virus, swine flu, bronchitis, and sinus inflections.  When you start to feel the first signs of a cold or flu – usually fatigue, increased sneezing, or runny nose – taking Elderberry Syrup can help stop the virus from progressing into a full-blown illness.

Since my family uses it daily to help boost our immune system, I found it was not only cheaper, but also healthier, to make my own.  I can make 32oz with 6 ingredients for just under $6.00 versus purchasing the 4oz store-bought syrup for more than $15.00!  I have more control over what ingredients I use AND I save money!  

As for doses, adults can take 1tbsp per day during the winter months, and if you are needing an extra boost to help protect you from a bug going around then you can increase it to 2tbsp every 4 hours.  Children under 12 can take a minimum of 1tsp daily up to 2tsp every 4 hours if they need extra protection during a illness outbreak .

So without further ado, here is our family Elderberry Syrup recipe!  (And P.S. it makes your home smell so yummy as you cook it – another added bonus!).

PREP: 5 minutes            COOK: 60 minutes            YIELD: 4 cups/32 oz


  • 2/3 cups dried Elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw (preferably local) honey


  • Bring elderberries, water, ginger, cinnamon, & cloves to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 45-60 minutes until liquid has reduced to half.
  • Remove from heat and mash elderberries with a spoon or flat utensil.
  • Pour berries through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl and discard berries.
  • Once the elderberry liquid has cooled to lukewarm, add honey and stir well (the honey acts as a preservative).
  • Store in fridge and consume within 7 days or save 1/2 and freeze for later use.


  • If choosing to pick your own elderberries in nature, please note that not all are edible.
  • Elderberries should not be eaten raw as it can result in diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Those with autoimmune conditions may also want to consult their doctor due to the immune stimulating properties of elderberries.  
  • People with organ transplants, and who are pregnant and breastfeeding should speak to a healthcare professional before taking them.