Everybody knows how effective elderberry syrup is at beating the flu, but there are many other ways to use elderberries and elder flowers to get healthy.  Some even work better than elderberry syrup!

Here are three great medicinal remedies you can make with elderberries and elder flowers, from my book, Elderberries: The Beginner’s Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and MoreThe book contains information how to find wild elder shrubs or grow your own, what medical studies have shown about the benefits of elderberries and elderflowers, and over 70 recipes for elderberry and elderflower medicinal remedies, jams and jellies, desserts, alcoholic beverages and more.

Elderflower Tea

Elderflower tea is said to help cure stuffy noses and ward off colds that are starting to develop if taken often at the first sign of illness. This is a lovely tea to sip to fight off whatever bug is going around.  It’s also great for seasonal allergies.  As a bonus, it tastes delicious!


* 2 heaping tsp dried elderflowers

* 1 cup boiling water


  1. Steep the dried elderflowers in one cup of boiling water. Stir.
  2. Infuse for five minutes. Strain and add a squeeze of lemon and some honey.

Dosage: Take three to four times per day at the first sign of symptoms. Children can take half a cup, three to four times a day.


Elderberry Tincture


* One pint (two cups) fresh or half pint (one cup) of dried elderberries

* One pint of 100 proof vodka


  1. Wash and sort the elderberries, tossing any stems or moldy berries. Fill a pint jar or other glass container with the elderberries, nearly to the top, and mash gently with a fork.
  2. Pour in the vodka to completely cover the berries. Screw on the lid.
  3. Shake the jar daily, topping it off with more vodka if needed. Let steep for 4-6 weeks.
  4. Strain through a colander into a clear jar, pressing the berries to release all of their juice. Transfer to small bottles with droppers and store away from light. It will keep for several years, though it will lose potency somewhat after time and will be most effective the first year.

Dosage: Adults may take 10 drops up to three times a day as an immune booster and to prevent illness. In times of illness, adults may take up to 30 drops, three times a day (20 drops is a quarter teaspoon). Drops may be administered in a glass of water or under the tongue.

* Note that this has alcohol, so use your discretion about administering to children. Standard traditional dosage of elderberry tincture for children over two years old in times of illness is 7-10 drops, up to three times a day, in a glass of water or tea. You may wish to avoid the alcohol and administer elderberry syrup or oxymel instead, or provide elderberries’ benefits with elderberry apple juice instead, gummies, popsicles or other alcohol-free remedies.


Quick Elderberry Apple Juice

We all know the benefits of elderberries for the immune system and to help kick colds and flus to the curb, but sometimes you’re too busy with sickness to make a new batch of elderberry syrup or you’re out of honey. Here’s a super simple way to get the benefits of elderberries in sick kids (or grown-ups!), along with needed liquids.

Each quart of juice has as much elderberry goodness as an entire batch of elderberry syrup. Have the family sip it throughout the week in times of illness or when you want to give everybody’s immune system a boost.


* ½ cup dried elderberries

* one quart apple juice (preferably organic), divided


  1. Measure two cups of the apple juice into a saucepan and add the elderberries. Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Use a potato masher to gently mash the elderberries, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a 2-cup measuring cup or clean jar.
  3. Carefully pour the liquid into a large jar or back into the apple juice container.  Pour in the rest of the apple juice, shaking or stirring gently to mix.

Dosage: Encourage kids (and adults) to drink this throughout the day. There is no maximum dose. Keeps for several days in the fridge. 

Remember that elderberry works best if taken often throughout the day, rather than in large single doses.

Elderberries grow wild all over the United States, Canada, Europe and beyond, yet most people don't even realize they're there. Now you can learn how to easily find wild elderberries, forage them and grow your own to make medicinal remedies like anti-flu syrup and elderberry oxymel, delicious baked goods like elderberry meringue pie and elderberry thumbprint cookies, elderflower recipes like elderflower fritters and elderflower soda, alcoholic recipes like elderberry wine and elderberry hard lemonade, and lots more. Elderberries and elderflowers are among the most perfect wild foods. They are useful in all sorts of recipes, packed with health benefits that do everything from boost the immune system to cure the flu, and you can even find them for free all over the world -- or grow your own. This comprehensive guide will teach you: The incredible history of elderberries and elder flowers Health studies and traditional medicinal uses The effects of heating and freezing on the medicinal properties of elderberries The most efficient way to get every bit of the anti-flu benefits from elderberries (Hint: it's not elderberry syrup!) How to easily find elderberries, with full-color ID photos and maps of elderberry ranges in the United States and Canada (though you'll also find them elsewhere all throughout the world) How to grow your own elder shrubs from cuttings or wild transplants How to preserve elderberries by freezing, drying, canning and more How to ID elders and how to tell them from so-called poisonous look-alikes Elderflower recipes for teas, pancakes, syrups and more Elderberry recipes for jams, tinctures, oxymels, popsicles, pies, muffins and more Instructions for homemade spirits like elderflower wine, elderberry mead, elderflower-blueberry smashes and elderflower liqueur ice cream floats -- just to name a few! And much more With over 60 recipes for health remedies, baked goods, spirits, jellies and more! The amazing health benefits of elderberries are well known. There's no more need to spend up to $20 a pound on dried elderberries when you can find them all around you once you know where (and when) to look. There's also no more need to limit yourself to elderberry syrup when there are so many better ways to get the health benefits of elderberries. And once you know how to find or grow your own elderberries, there's no need to stop at medicinal recipes when you'll have enough to also make all kinds of delicious jellies, liqueurs, baked goods, drinks and other delicious treats. Whether you're a novice forager wanting to find local (free!) sources of elderberries for anti-flu syrup, a homeowner interested in growing elderberries and finding delicious ways to preserve them, or a veteran forager looking for fun new ways to make use of elderberry and elderflower bounties, this comprehensive book has something for you.


Please note: 

The information in this post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is always recommended that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal or pharmaceutical products, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on any medications.

This page contains affiliate links. 


8 Replies to “Three Ways to Use Elderberries & Elderflowers to Ward Off Sickness (Besides Elderberry Syrup)”

    1. Hi Gerry. Frozen elderberries can be used but they will not have as much medicinal benefit as fresh or dried. I have a section in my elderberry book where I researched the effects of heating, drying and freezing on various properties in elderberries. Here’s a clip about freezing:

      “The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published one study that investigated the effects of freezing on the levels of anthocyanin (a component of elderberries and other fruits which studies have shown has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties, among many other health benefits) on three varieties of American elderberries (Adams II, Bob Gordon, and Wyldewood).
      The researchers concluded that the variety of elderberry shrub influenced the amount of anthocyanin in the berries (factors such as elevation also affect the content), with some varieties holding up to freezing better than others, and all varieties retaining more of their healthy properties with shorter freezing times rather than long ones:

      ‘The Bob Gordon retained 99%, 76%, and 58% of its initial anthocyanins during 3, 6, and 9 months of storage, respectively. Wyldewood retained 72%, 44%, and 28% and Adams II 42%, 30%, and 18% of their initial anthocyanins during 3, 6, and 9 months of storage, respectively.’

      The authors also acknowledged that they thawed and re-froze the elderberry samples for each testing, and this process could have contributed to the breakdown as much as the freezing itself, too.

      Of course, all of these are commercial varieties of elderberries, and your wild elderberries are going to have unknown amounts of anthocyanins and unknown reactions to freezing. This is a good study to give you an idea of the potential effect, though.

      The takeaway for freezing elderberries:

      All elderberries will lose some of their medicinal properties during freezing, but they will lose less if you freeze them for a shorter time (such as three months or less). The longer elderberries remain frozen, the less they will retain their medicinal properties.
      If you plan to purchase elderberry seedlings to grow your own elderberries, the Bob Gordon variety seems to be the best bet for health benefits.”

      So your elderberries will probably lose some of their value from freezing but keep in mind that elderberries are so packed with benefits that a tincture from frozen berries would still be very helpful. I would use a very high proof alcohol for the tincture with frozen berries though, since it will be somewhat watered down from the freezing and thawing. Frozen berries make a wonderful elderberry liqueur and schnapps, too, and then the medicinal benefits are just extra. 😉

      I hope that helps!

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