DIY and Crafts

How to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup (or Juice) in the Instant Pot

mason jar filled with elderberry syrup near a lemon and ginger root

For thousands of years, the Sambucus plant (more commonly known as the elderberry) has played a role in folk medicine. Traditionally, the fruit of the black elderberry, Sambucus nigra L., has been used to treat a variety of conditions including influenza, infections and constipation (1).

Today, the elderberry plant is enjoying a surge in popularity, thanks to several studies citing its immune boosting properties and possible effectiveness for reducing the severity and duration of the common cold and flu (influenza) (2, 3, 4). While its efficacy is still a matter of some debate and further large-scale studies are needed (5), many people like to use elderberry syrup as both a preventative measure against, and a remedy for, seasonal colds and the flu.

I’ve been fascinated by the potential benefits of elderberries and elderberry syrup for a while now, but I put off making my own elderberry syrup because I thought that it was going to be difficult to make. Turns out, it’s actually pretty easy to make your own elderberry syrup at home and it takes very little time to whip up a batch of this sweet, immune-boosting syrup… especially when you’re using an Instant Pot! (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry. You can make this elderberry syrup recipe on the stove-top too in about an hour.)


How to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup (Vegan* or Vegetarian Recipe)

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Ingredients

2 cups filtered water (plus 1/2 cup of water if making on the stove top)
2/3 cup dried elderberries (preferably organic)
1/4 cup lemon juice (optional)
2 inch piece of ginger, grated (optional)
1 cup raw honey (or sugar if you are vegan or using for a child under 1 year of age)

Note: Children under 1 year of age should not consume honey in any form.

How to Make Vegan or Vegetarian Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot

Place water, dried elderberries, lemon juice, and ginger in the Instant Pot. Pressure cook on high for 9 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally.

Pour the contents of the Instant Pot through a metal mesh strainer into a glass mason jar. Press down on the pulp with a spatula to extract all of the juice.

Allow the juice to cool to room temperature and mix in the honey or sugar. You may add more honey or sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Place a lid on the jar and refrigerate.

How to Make Vegan or Vegetarian Elderberry Syrup on the Stove

Place water, dried elderberries, lemon juice, and ginger in a pot on the stove. Add an additional 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.

Pour the mixture through a metal mesh strainer into a glass mason jar. Press down on the pulp with a spatula to extract all of the juice.

Allow the juice to cool to room temperature and mix in the honey or sugar. You may add more honey or sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Place a lid on the jar and refrigerate.

Note: To make elderberry juice, just use the honey or sugar to sweeten to taste. No need to put a whole cup in there!


Where to Buy Elderberries

While some people harvest their own elderberries, I feel most comfortable buying them online from a reputable source. It’s hard to beat the convenience of dried and packaged elderberries! I bought my whole dried wildcrafted sambucus nigra elderberries here.

While making your own elderberry syrup is certainly the cheapest way to go, you can also buy commercially prepared elderberry products such as syrups and gummies if you are not comfortable making your own, or if you don’t have the time or resources to do so.

Elderberry products are readily available online and are becoming increasingly more common in local health and grocery stores. I even saw Sambucol for sale recently at our local BJ’s Club store, attesting to its growing popularity!


How to Store Elderberry Syrup

You may keep the syrup in the fridge for about two weeks. For some, it might last even longer. But, if it starts to look, taste, or smell unpleasant, please play it safe and throw it out!

If you know that you will not be able to use all of it within that time frame, freeze it in small portions using an ice cube tray. Frozen, elderberry syrup will keep even longer.


How Much Elderberry Syrup Should I Take?

Disclaimer: I’m a mom, not a doctor! Please consult your personal qualified health practitioner before using any natural remedies. None of these statements have been evaluated or approved by the FDA and they are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.

It’s best to consult a local herbalist or naturopath if you have questions about how much or how often you or your child should take elderberry syrup. But, in our family, we use the following serving sizes of elderberry syrup daily during cold and flu season as a preventative measure:

Children: 1/2 teaspoon
Adults: 1 teaspoon

During the flu, we take the daily dose of elderberry syrup every 2 to 3 hours, starting within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.


Who Should Not Take Elderberry?

Please note: Elderberry is not recommended for people with autoimmune diseases due to its ability to stimulate the immune system (7). Its use is discouraged if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as appropriate studies have not been carried out (7). Finally, appropriate studies have not been conducted to determine the safety of taking elderberry for more than 12 weeks for adults and 10 days for children (7).