Elderberry, syrup and cordial

Elderberry, syrup and cordial.

One berry and two great ways to prepare it. I created both as an experiment to help me decide which one would suit my family best.

The Syrup

I tried the syrup first, mostly because I happened to get a great recipe in my e-mail. The syrup is quite tasty, really easy to use in a variety of ways, and safe for children. We have used the syrup on ice cream, toast, in oatmeal, and can be taken straight a teaspoon or two at a time. Creating the syrup was really easy and only took 30 minutes or so.

The downside to this recipe is the need to keep it  refrigerated. It can be stored for two to three months this way. Shelf life is short on this one and having to keep it in the refrigerator is a serious detractor for me. The syrup can be used up quickly, but then it isn’t around when needed or one must  create new batches on a regular basis. There is the option of freezing the syrup, which will extend the shelf life but may alter the taste and properties of the syrup.

The Cordial

The cordial took more time to create but the shelf life is much longer. The cordial is also not compatible with using on foods because of the alcohol content, it just doesn’t taste very good.  However it can be mixed into a beverage, so that the alcohol is diluted and it becomes more palatable. The cordial preparation is tasty, though the flavor is dependent partially on what alcohol is used in the creation of the cordial.  Using a sweeter alcohol will result in a sweeter taster cordial with less of the alcohol bite. I am using a moonshine this time because I am enamored of using moonshines and I have access to a locally made moonshine.

If your berries are fresh, the alcohol needs to be at least 67.5 % alcohol. This you can get a proof between the usual 80-90 and 190 proof by using a blend of the two proofs. The moonshine in use, bottled at 100 proof, however, with strawberries in it the proof goes up over time. Also, my elderberries are dry. I prefer to use dried herbs in my preparations just because higher water content brings the possibility of spoilage.

My Preference

To answer the question of which suits my family best, it is both. The syrup is great for us as a healthy occasional treat. The cordial is great to keep in the house for colds, flu’s, and such. Each recipe has its merits and each family should carefully weigh their options in making the decision which to keep handy.

Elderberry syrup recipe


2 oz elderberries

½ a cinnamon stick

2 cloves

¼ tsp ginger

1 cup local honey

2 cups water

Place elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, honey, and ginger in a pot with the 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Reduce by half and strain through a filter of your choice. Cheesecloth works well. Press berries to get all the juice.

Elderberry cordial recipe

First stage

2 oz dried elderberries

1 cup alcohol   


Place elderberries in jar cover with alcohol. Add more alcohol if needed, the berries must be covered in alcohol (floating is okay). Place in a cabinet and leave for at least two weeks.

Second stage


A pot

1 cup Honey

Strain alcohol from the berries and put the alcohol into the pot. Add honey. Heat slowly stirring until the alcohol and honey are thoroughly mixed.




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