Elderberry Syrup & Fire Cider

Learn how to make some time-honored herbal tonics that have been traditionally used to boost your immune system! Joan Jach, owner and farmer of Old Town Flowers CU, shares her favorite recipes for Elderberry Syrup and Fire Cider.


Author Bio

As a child, I was always outside: building forts, picking flowers, watching animals and communing with Mother Nature's spirit. I try to reclaim that feeling of complete wonder in my art and my products. My work runs a broad line between the cultivated and the wild, the well-planned success and the successful fail, the grit of real and magic of make believe. Whatever you find in my work, I hope it makes you feel full of wonder. 


*Note from Joan

This is Rosemary Gladstar's fire cider recipe and is the one I've been using for years. Fire Cider is the "people's medicine", as Rosemary would say. The name 'Fire Cider' was in litigation for years because a corporation trademarked the name. After a long legal battle, the name Fire Cider was declared generic and can once again be used by folks who have been making this traditional tonic for generations.


Elderberry Syrup
Dried organic elderberries
1 cup
Filtered water
4 cups
Grated ginger
2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon
Whole cloves
8 ounces
Fire Cider
Grated fresh horseradish root
1/4 cup
Chopped onions
1/4 cup
Chopped garlic
2 tablespoons
Grated ginger
2 tablespoons
Cayenne pepper, fresh (chopped) or dried (flakes or ground)
To taste
Apple cider vinegar
To taste

Elderberry Syrup

  1. Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
  3. Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour. 
  4. Strain berries and herbs using a funnel overlaid with doubled cheesecloth or an undyed cotton muslin bag and squeeze out liquid (careful, liquid will likely still be hot!). Discard used herbs in compost.
  5. When it is no longer hot, add the honey and stir well.
  6. When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into sterilized glass jars/bottles.
  7. Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune-boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.

Pro Tips:

  • Be sure to add honey in a ratio that is at least half of the total volume of liquid after it has simmered. This amount can change slightly and you want to make sure you have enough preservative (honey) so that your syrup won't spoil. (Example: If you are left with 2 cups of elderberry decoction, you will want to add at least 1 cup of honey).
  • If you are using fresh or frozen elderberries, use twice the amount called for in the recipe.
  • Dosage: Standard dose is 1/2 teaspoon - 1 teaspoon for kids and 1/2 tablespoon - 1 tablespoon for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day for up to 24 hours or until symptoms subside.
  • Optional add-ins include 1/2 cup dried Reishi mushrooms, 1 tablespoon lemon balm leaves, and 1/2 of a vanilla bean.


Fire Cider

  1. Place herbs in a 32-ounce jar and add enough vinegar to cover by 3 to 4 inches.
  2. Seal jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Place jar in a warm spot and let sit for 3-4 weeks.
  4. Shake daily to help the maceration process.
  5. After 3-4 weeks, strain out herbs, reserving liquid.
  6. Heat honey on low heat and add to vinegar, to taste. Fire Cider should be hot, spicy, and sweet.
  7. Pour into sterilized jars/bottles and label.
  8. Fire Cider will keep for several months unrefrigerated if stored in a cool pantry, but it's best to store in the refrigerator. A small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic, or you can take Fire Cider by teaspoons throughout the day if you feel a cold coming on. 


Pro Tips:

  • Optional add-ins include organic citrus, elderberries, Schisandra berries, and Hibiscus flowers.