That’s a pretty loaded title, eh? While this black elderberry syrup probably won’t change your life, I do swear by it for curing whatever ails my family.  It is my first line of defense and go-to for just about any crud that tries to get into our house!

I first discovered this glorious berry, also often referred to as sambucus, during a particularly awful cold and flu season about 5 years ago when my son was 3 and I was pregnant with my daughter. I was looking for any natural way to ward off and/or fight the flu. The most common name brand, Sambucol, was actually created by a virologist- the smart people who study viruses. Through thorough research it was discovered that black elderberry has 2x the antioxidant capabilities of blueberries and more than 50x that of cranberries! Plus, it specifically enhances the immune system to fight off viruses and is safe to use daily.

This all was news to me at the time and through the years others have caught on to the benefits of black elderberry, so much so that during the awful flu outbreak of 2017 most store and online retailers sold out of all forms of it! If you’ve ever bought Sambucol, or other versions of black elderberry syrup, you know that it is NOT cheap! Especially if you want to use it daily during peak cold and flu season for your entire family. 

So I did what any good mom would do, I turned to Pinterest! This is the original recipe that I followed but the beauty of both the Instapot and the internet is that there are variations to suit your taste! 

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup dried black elderberries (Amazon is probably cheapest but your local health store should have them, too)
  • 1 orange (zest + juice)
  • 1 lemon (zest +juice)
  • 1 inch-ish fresh ginger chopped, yes, that is a technical measurement
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (you can totally use vanilla extract if you can’t find the paste)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup honey (raw is best!) or to taste
  • Optional additions: clove, star anise ( this depends on how strong of a flavor you want)

Method:

  • Add the water, elderberries, zest and juice of both the orange and lemon ( as well as the fruit), chopped ginger, vanilla paste, and cinnamon sticks in your instant pot and pressure cook on manual high for 7 minutes, quick release. You can also let it natural release if you have the time!

  • Once you’ve released the pressure, let it cool enough so that you can pour the contents through a mesh strainer. Make sure to press the mixture down to extract as much of the liquid as possible.

  • Continue to cool the liquid until it is warm enough to “melt” the honey but not so hot that it breaks down all the healthy benefits honey has to offer!

  • Once the liquid has completely cooled, transfer it to your container of choice! Store in the fridge for up to a month. This particular recipe typically yields about 1.5 quarts.

Once you’ve tried this foolproof recipe, decide how you want to make it your own! More orange? Less lemon? Add another immune boosting super food? 

I first started using black elderberry syrup at the first signs of a cough or sniffle in our house, but once our kids were in full-time school, I decided to give them a “shot” of it daily (1 tablespoon) for immune boosting.

Then I up the dose as needed when someone is coming down with something (up to 3 tablespoons daily). I strongly believe that we have been a healthier family and have kicked whatever sickness has tried to make its way into our house with the use of this amazing little berry!

What other natural boosts do you use to help ward off the winter sickness?