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Elderberry Syrup

December 24th, 2008

Em from Dance of the Small Things asked for my Elderberry Syrup recipe back when I posted about the items I had canned as part of the Harvest Keepers Challenge. I make syrup every year and we use it for pancakes and we also stir it into tea as a sweetener. Elderberries are super healthy and great for you. Handmaiden’s Kitchen has a few posts on the benefits and how to make an elderberry tincture.

Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.

This is my recipe for syrup. You can just make it using sugar, elderberry syrup and lemon juice if you don’t mind a runny syrup. I prefer mine to be a little thicker so I use pectin, I find it works much better on pancakes this way (doesn’t make the pancake soggy). If you plan on using this only for health benefits in tea, you probably don’t need to add pectin. I use no-sugar pectin so I can make a reduced sugar syrup, I also use organic evaporated cane juice to sweeten my syrups & jellies.
First you want to pick very ripe elderberries (I always pick as many as I can, I think this is about 10 quarts) and remove all stems (stems are poisonous so make sure to get as many as possible). Next, you’ll cook the berries down with a little water to prevent sticking. I usually barely boil mine for 30-35 minutes in a big stock pot with the lid on, every so often I crush them with a potato masher. Next let them cool a bit and press them through a sieve if desired (you can leave in the seeds if you’d like, I strain mine out). You’ll end up with elderberry juice.
I ended up with about a gallon of elderberry juice from my stock pot full of berries. At this point you can refrigerate the juice if you’d like for a day or two before you make the syrup, or you can proceed and make the syrup right away.


1. Bring boiling water canner, half-full of water, to simmer.
2. Prepare jars, lids and rims for canning.
3. Measure 10 cups of prepared juice into pan and add in 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
4. Measure 8 cups of sugar into bowl, set aside.
5. Mix 1/4 cups of sugar (from bowl that you set aside) and mix with pectin in a small bowl.
6. Stir pectin/sugar mix into fruit juice, add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to keep foam down.
7. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that can’t be stirred down), stirring constantly.
8. Stir in remaining sugar and return to a full boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. (remove a small amount of syrup from pan and cool quickly on cold plate to test consistency, you want it to by syrupy but not too thick).
9. Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of top. Wipe jar rims and threads, cover with lids and place jars in elevated rack in the canner. Water must cover jars 1 or 2 inches above lids. Cover and bring water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove and cool on rack.
Just a note: Make sure you’re picking real elderberries and not ink berries. If you’re not sure, find someone who knows and have them help you. As with anything else, make sure you’re not allergic to something before you eat a big helping of it. Also make sure to check the seals on the jars before storing them.

What kinds of delicious syrups/jellies did you make this summer?

Bunches of Blackberries

August 6th, 2008

The wild blackberries are in full swing right now.

Mr Chiots and I have been picking almost every day. Some days we end up with a 2 bags, on Friday we picked 5 quarts in one day!

Picking berries has it’s own challenges, the thorns on blackberry bushes are wicked. I have so many scrapes on my hands, arms & legs (and I’m even wearing long sleeves, heavy pants & boots).

It’s not for those afraid of bugs either. I almost stuck my face in this guy one day (and he’s pretty big too, about 2 inches around).

Even the Chiots likes to head out with us. She enjoys running around in the weeds & eating grass while we pick. She gets an occasional berry as a treat as well.

So what have I been doing with all these blackberries? Making pies & cobblers and freezing the rest for winter enjoyment.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.