Elder Flower Syrup for “Soda” on the Solstice

Elder flowers are an ancient tradition at Summer Solstice celebrations, especially in the form of cordial. Not being familiar with the taste of elder flowers or making a cordial, I played it safe and made the syrup. Elder flower is an acquired taste. Both very floral and something else that is a bit “funky”. It worked well in an ice cold soda for a special picnic but for regular consumption, I just don’t know. I added a few non traditional ingredients to increase the health benefits and make the taste more acceptable for my family.

Elder Flower Syrup

1 tsp of turmeric powder

1 TBSP of finely chopped fresh ginger root

Juice of half a large lemon

1 cups of sugar

2 cups of water

1/2 cup of very fresh, at their peak elder flowers with as much of the stem removed as you can manage.

Unflavored, carbonated, soda water

Boil the water. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Add in the fresh flowers and other ingredients. Let sit over night (8 hours). Strain out the flowers. Bottle and store in the refrigerator until needed. Decide the ratio of syrup to soda water that works for you. Serve over ice.


15 freshly picked elder flower heads. Pick them in the morning and they will taste more floral and less “funky”. Not waiting until after noon and using the flowers as soon as they are picked is a game changer for flavor.

2 large lemons coarsely chopped

1/4 cup of citric acid powder

5 cups of water

2 -3 cups of sugar

Bring your water to a boil. Add in the elder flowers, lemons, and citric acid. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in your sugar until clear. Bottle immediately. Store in the refrigerator. Makes two large bottles full.

There is no controversy surrounding the use of elder flowers in all manner of culinary dishes. BUT the roots, seeds, stems, and leaves contain an alkaloid that is believed to convert to cyanide when exposed to acids in the human stomach. No one wants to feel “poisoned”, get sick, or harm their kidneys/other organs. If you are curious about using elder it is important to never consume the roots, stems, branches, or leaves of the plant unless you are under the supervision of a healthcare provider who has lots of experience using Elder. To be safe only use cooked ripe berries (dried or fresh) where the seeds have been strained out. The “drama” around elder revolves around 3 three main topics.

1)Which plants in the Sambucus family can be safely consumed? To be safe avoid the ones growing in the wild and choose the ones that are commonly cultivated and researched like S. canadensis or S. nigra.

2)What role does Elder play in cytokine storms. Could that be a concern with some new viruses? I suggest you do your own research and make your own informed decision.

3) Are ripe dried elderberries safe to use? Cook them if you are unsure. Know that some herbalists feel comfortable using them dried and not cooked. Some people have reported feeling sick after consuming the dried berries when not cooked. There are no research studies that support the danger of ripe dried elderberries or the need to cook fresh or dried berries. The concern seems to be only with unripe berries. *Source-The Botanical Safety Handbook. It is the seed not the ripe fruit surrounding it that has the alkaloid. The apple, peach, strawberry, cherry, and strawberry also contain trace amounts of hydrocyanic acid.

Sambucus canadensis

Elder berry and flowers encourage the body to release toxins through sweating, moving stagnant blood and urination. Research shows that elderberries contain constituents that prevent viruses from penetrating cells. Elder has been used since ancient times to treat fluid retention, colds, flu, hay fever, asthma, and childhood infections. This plant is thought to be useful for relieving a cough, opening the lungs, or increasing oxygen saturation and breathing capacity. It has a long history of being used as a laxative, purgative, and organ tonic. This herb support the nerves and digestive system. The berries are high in Vitamin C, and contain small amounts of iron and potassium. You will find them in syrups, jams, pies, and cobblers. Externally the flowers have been used in skin and hair products including salves, lotions, toners, and rinses. They have been used in eyewashes, gargles and compresses for infection, headache, skin conditions, bruising, and pain. They will lower a fever, relieve a sore throat, help with congestion. and clear heat as a tea or tincture. In recipes you can find them in salads, drinks, jelly, and baked goods.


How do you like to use Elder?

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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