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Summer with her harvest of fresh elderberries

Mary Poppins knew what she was talking about when she sang “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

While I try to stay away from refined sugar I do agree that a spoonful of honey makes the medicine go down...especially when trying to get wiggly toddlers to comply. Not only is this easy elderberry syrup recipe helpful for colds and flus, it also tastes delicious.


The dark blue or purple berries on the elder tree contain antiviral properties that can help fight off and reduce the duration of a cold or the flu. Sambucol, a compound found in elderberries, is one of the only compounds known to kill influenza.

As an immunostimulating herb, the berry helps the body resist infection by stimulating the immune system. This category of herbs works quickly and fades fast.

Don’t forget about the creamy white flowers. The flowers are diaphoretic, which means it helps the body break a sweat. This is key during a cold or flu because sweat is one of the ways the body eliminates pathogens. It’s also useful for upper respiratory sinus infections and hay-fevers.

The elder tree is also a majestic & significant plant in the folklore of old Western Europe where it served as the doorway to the Underworld or magical fairy realm. It was referred to as Queen of the Elders. It’s said that if you fall asleep under the fragrant tree in full bloom you will be transported to the realm of the fairies.


September is a great time to whip up a batch of elderberry syrup. This way you’ll have it ready to grab when your kid comes home from school with a runny nose. So have some ready to go BEFORE cold and flu season ramps up.


The key to preventing or shortening a cold or flu is to work with elderberry at the first sign of a cold brewin’. When the lymph in your throat starts to swell, your feeling achy, super fatigued or have a runny nose. This is the time for elderberry syrup plus some rest.


Take 1 tbsp every few hours at the first sign of a cold, until symptoms subside. For children, you can give 1 tsp every few hours. If you want to stimulate your immune system so you don’t catch what’s going around you can take 1 tsp daily as preventative medicine. It’s also delicious on pancakes or swirled into yogurt!

*Since this recipe uses honey it’s not safe for children under one.



1 cup fresh elderberries or ½ cup dried

1-inch fresh ginger, sliced

1 lemon, quartered

½ stick cinnamon

3 cups of water

1 cup honey

*3-4 Tbsp brandy per cup of syrup - optional


- Cover elderberries, ginger, lemon, and cinnamon with water and bring to a slow boil

- Bring to a simmer and reduce liquid to half its original volume. The longer it cooks the stronger the medicine! You can use a chopstick to measure the volume and keep track of when it's been reduced in half.

- Once reduced remover from heat and let cool. I usually put mine in the fridge to cool quickly.

- Use a sieve with a piece of cheesecloth to strain out the liquid. Use the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out all the liquid goodness from the elderberries.

- Add honey and dissolve. Depending on how cool your syrup is you might have to gently heat on the stove to dissolve.

- If your adding the optional brandy be sure the syrup is cool before adding so it doesn’t evaporate. Brandy has been used for years as an expectorating cough soother. It also helps extend the shelf life. If your planning on giving this to children and worried about the alcohol you can omit it.

- Label, store in the fridge and enjoy!


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