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Black beauty - Elder in its own.

My fellow herbalist and friend Iulia recently asked to share my elderberry syrup recipe I posted a picture of on my social media the other day. So I thought it will make a nice topic for this month's blog as well. Black elder (Sambucus nigra) is extremely versatile shrubby tree abundantly growing in damp areas such as marshes, near water ponds, or in shady woods. All flowers, leaves, berries and bark can be used medicinally, although I'm only using flowers and berries in my herbal preparations. Unlike elderflowers which can be picked up from March to June, depending on the season, elderberries are ready to be harvested in late summer throughout August and September.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Elderberries are rich in fruit acids, vitamin C and anthocyanin pigments giving its dark purple-black colour. Apart from its gorgeous colour, anthocyanins possess antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions effective in treatments of common coughs and colds, flu, fevers, and as a general immune system support to shorten duration of respiratory infections, as it has been shown to interfere with the viral replication. Elderberry syrups have been known as a traditional pleasant tasting remedy suitable for all ages.

I managed to make few different elderberry syrups and elixirs in past either following a recipe or my own instinct. It's extremely easy to make elderberry syrup and use as a homemade herbal remedy. This time I have added ginger and lemon for extra benefits. What I would just advised is to find a clean source of your berries - a bush away from main traffic roads. In London it might be a bit difficult but still doable. I happened to collect my berries after the light rain so this gave me an opportunity not to wash the berries either. If you still prefer to wash, submerge your still intact harvest into fresh water and leave to dry. Use fork to separate the berries from its stalks. To make the syrup you will need the following:


Elderberry, ginger and lemon syrup.

1L of elderberries (stalks removed)

1L of filtered water

200g coarsely grated ginger root (preferably organic, washed and scrubbed with veg brush)

2 lemons, zest and juice (unwaxed)

honey (amount to match liquid gained)

Put the berries into a sauce pan, cover with water, add grated ginger root and lemon zest. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 30min to reduce the amount of water by a third. Mash the berries and strain through the sieve twice to get all the juice out. Discard the seeds and skin. Add lemon juice and measure the amount of entire liquid left. Add the same amount of honey in 1:1 ratio. For instance I got 700ml of juice so I have added 700ml of honey. This syrup has sweet taste with mild gingery aftertaste but you can add more ginger or lemon according to your liking. Pour the syrup into sterilised jars while still hot, cover with lids and place upside down to cool down completely. Label and store in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight. After opening store in the fridge. Syrup will last up to 6 months.

Take 1-3 teaspoons daily to boost the immune system or during colds and flu every 2 hours. Alternatively elderberry, ginger and lemon syrup can be made as a hot drink. Use 1 tablespoon per cup, pour with hot water and add extra lemon juice to taste. Enjoy!

Love and hugs, J.


Winston D. and Khun M. A, (2008). Herbal Therapy and Supplements: a scientific and herbal approach. 2nd ed., Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Nutrients, (2016); 8 (4). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Available at:

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