Looking lush and ready for the picking, the beautiful  heavy Elder berries hang drooping from their braches.

They are packed full of vitamins to see you through the winter, here's how to make a simple syrup.

NEVER eat them raw, as they are mildly toxic unless cooked.

In summary it’s:

Part 1: Pick berries, cook berries in water, sieve berries, keeping the liquid.

Part 2: Measure the liquid, add sugar to the liquid, cook again to dissolve sugar, add preservative if needed, bottle.


You can make as much syrup as berries you can pick. But please always leave some for the birds!


This makes about 1 litre of syrup and I picked a medium pan ful of berries (about 680grams -weight includes small stalks – I cut off the bigger ones)

Added 400ml water (or roughly half way up the berries – any more & it becomes too watery)

Bring to boil for 1 minute, then return to simmer for at least 20 mins, occasionally stirring & crushing the berries against the side of the pan.

Remove from heat and let cool before straining.

Strain this through a fine mesh sieve, or  line it with muslin – keeping the liquid - squash out as much of the liquid as possible then throw away the berries (or compost them).

cooking berries The berries releasing all their goodness. 

Adding the sugar:

Measure this liquid – depending on how much you have then add sugar.

This is down to taste, but I’ve found the following is a rough guide: Add more or less depending on what you like.

If you are not going to add citric acid – then add 100 grams of sugar per 1 litre of liquid. 

If you are going to add citric acid – you need more sugar than you think as it is is very tart - so add 150 grams of sugar per 1 litre of liquid

  1. Gently heat up the elderberry liquid and add the sugar stirring so it dissolves.  There is no need to simmer or boil at this stage.
  2. If you are NOT adding any preservative then bottle the juice at this stage,  it will keep in your fridge for 1 week, or you can freeze it.

 Adding the preservative:

Lemon and citric acid are both good preservatives. Citric acid is available in most large supermarkets, health shops or online, it keeps for ages so it’s useful to have in the cupboard. Or you can add cloves to preserve it, which are also good for you too.

  1. Just add 1 or 2  tablespoons of citric acid per 1 litre of liquid.  No need to heat the liquid again, just stir it in well so it is all dissolved.
  2. Or add 10 - 20 cloves per litre of liquid.

Pour into steralised bottles or jars and just take 1 or 2 teaspoons a day throughout the Winter months.

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