Worts & All’s elderberry syrup

elderberry syrup

As promised in my previous post, this is the recipe for my own version of elderberry syrup. The beauty of syrups is (1) they are very flexible and amenable to creative customization, and (2) you have an excuse to guzzle delicious syrups all day.

My recipe was inspired by this version from the Mountain Rose Blog and this one from HerbMentor. I modified it to suit what I had on hand and what I like, and I think the result is delicious if I do say so myself.

Actually, I can’t take all the credit for the deliciousness. I bought some raw local wildflower honey yesterday at the farmer’s market that is amaaaaaaazing. The best thing about southern California, in my opinion, is the honey. An acquaintance of mine whose father and brother are beekeepers told me that honeys from arid regions are more intensely flavored than those from humid places. Whatever the reason is, it is outstanding and it makes this syrup especially good.

If you use honey for this recipe, try to get raw local honey. The stuff that comes in squeeze bears is usually not all, or even mostly, real honey. Definitely stay away from “honey syrup.”

And now without further ado I present my elderberry syrup recipe:


  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries
  • 2 Tbsp licorice root
  • 1 Tbsp rose hips
  • 2 tsp dried orange peel
  • 1 tsp cinnamon chips
  • 1 tsp ginger chips
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices astragalus (each about 3″ long)
  • 3 cloves
  • pinch cardamom (if hulled; if still in green pods, use 3)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup honey (or sugar or maple syrup)


Dump all the berries and spices into a pan with the water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Pour through a cheesecloth or jelly bag to strain–make sure to really squeeze the pulp because there will be a lot of juice still in there. When I first strained the juice I had less than 8 oz; by the time I had finished squeezing I had 12 oz.

Add the honey and stir well to mix. If your honey is solid or crystallized (it happens, and there’s nothing wrong with it), warm it a little first.

Bottle your syrup–you should end up with about 16 oz–and store it in the fridge. Take 1-3 Tbsp per day (adults) or 1-3 tsp per day (children) for prevention. When you first feel yourself getting sick, up the dosage to 1 Tbsp every 30 minutes to an hour (adults) or 1 tsp at the same frequency for kids. You can keep taking this throughout an illness to help shorten its duration.

Why these ingredients?

Elderberries and licorice both have antiviral properties. Note that licorice can raise blood pressure if taken in large quantities, so if you suffer from hypertension, use with caution. Elderberries are high in Vitamin C and contain Vitamins A, B6, and loads of antioxidants (more here). Licorice is an adaptogen and is considered a synergist that helps the herbs in a blend work better together (more here). By the way, no, this syrup doesn’t taste like licorice candy at all.

Rose hips and orange peel are high in Vitamin C.

Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and pepper are all warming. They improve digestion and help soothe digestive distress such as gas and nausea.

Black pepper helps your body better absorb the nutrients in the other ingredients. In this quantity, it does not make the syrup spicy (more here).


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