Elderberry tincture can be one incredible healing powerhouse. Thankfully making it yourself at home is easy and frugal.
When used externally elder can help heal wounds and when taken internally it can help fight colds, flus, and respiratory illnesses. It’s being studied as not only for its immune building properties but also for anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer potential.
Fresh or Dried Elderberries?
If elderberries grow locally, feel free to use those* but dried elderberries (like those from Frontier Herbs) can also be used. Use the dried elderberries when identification isn’t certain or when they simply don’t grow locally.
The process and results are generally the same and relatively frugal even when dried berries have to be purchased.
How to Make Elderberry Tincture with Vodka
Fill a jar 1/2 full with fresh, washed elderberries (or 1/4 full with dried elderberries). Pour vodka over the berries filling the jar to within 1″ of the top.
Put a lid on the jar and place in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks. Give it a shake every now and then.
When done infusing, strain the berries from the vodka and pour the tincture into a clean jar with a tight lid. Store out of direct sunlight, use dark bottles if not stored in a dark cabinet.
How to Make Elderberry Tincture with Glycerin
The benefit of using glycerin is that it is, of course, alcohol-free and more suitable for children or adults who avoid alcohol.
The process for glycerin tinctures are just slightly different than vodka tinctures:
With Fresh Elderberries
For fresh elderberries, fill the jar 2/3 full with fresh washed elderberries. Give the elderberries a slight crush with the back of a wooden spoon and then pour glycerin over the muddled berries to within 1″ of the top.
Put a lid on the jar and place in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks, giving it a shake every day (or when remembered).
When done infusing, strain the berries and store the glycerite in a clean bottle. Again, store out of direct sunlight, use dark bottles if not store in a dark cabinet.
With Dried Elderberries
For dried elderberries, some water needs to be added to help the elderberries re-hydrate. A good ratio is 75% glycerin to 25% water. It’s easiest to mix this up just 1 or 2 cups at a time. Make a batch with 1 & 1/2 cups of glycerin mixed with 1/2 cup of water and whisk well. Set aside.
Fill a jar 1/3 full of dried elderberries, cover with the glycerin / water mixture to within 1″ inch of the top. Give it all a good stir before putting the lid on it and storing in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks.
Give it a shake every day or when remembered. As above, strain the berries and store the tincture in a clean bottle out of direct sunlight.
Safety Precautions & Who Should Avoid Elderberry
If struggling with an auto-immune disease talk your doctor or herbalist first as it may stimulate the immune system too much for those conditions. There is much conflicting information about pregnant and nursing women – it hasn’t been studied sufficiently so if pregnant or nursing it’s best to avoid elderberry to be on the safe side. If you’re taking any prescription medications talk your doctor about potential interactions. I’m not a doctor or a trained healthcare professional, please double check all of this information with your doctor or herbalist.
*Please Note – Important Safety Information: Proper identification is extremely important here when foraging – there are some types of elderberry that are toxic, black elderberries are considered safe, but be sure of identification before ingesting.
Using Elderberry Tincture
When a cold or flu feels like it’s about to come on, start taking 1 teaspoon of the elderberry tincture 3 times a day. Dilute in a cup of water to ease the burn of the alcohol and make it easier to drink, if necessary.
While elderberry syrup is an amazing natural remedy to have on hand, the making process is a bit more hands on and time consuming when time might be in short supply. Rather than spend time stirring and straining elderberry juice, be prepared for cold and flu season this winter by starting some elderberry tincture now and having plenty on hand in that dark cabinet.
Sunday 15th of August 2021
Can anyone offer further insight on dosing? I keep reading in this post, comments and other blogs varying doses: teaspoon, few drops, dropperfull, X amount 3x a day, etc... I have a couple of jars 2 weeks into their infusion and am curious about proper dosing. I will be bottling in 30ml glass bottles w 1ml dropper top for use after I strain the tincture.
Sunday 15th of August 2021
The thing about herbal home remedies is that every body is different and home remedy preparations are not standardized like say pharmaceuticals and it is for that reason that dosing is often random. Starting with 1 teaspoon 3 times a day when a cold is coming on is likely a very good starting point for most folks. See what works, some folks may need more, others less.
Friday 13th of August 2021
This will be my first time making elderberry tincture. Have made many other herbal tinctures successfully. My question is about the stems. I keep seeing references to cyanide in the European elderberry stems but that American berries are a different variety and safe. I know the large stems need to be removed but what about the needle thin, tiny stems that stick out of the top of each berry? Those would be very time consuming to remove.Any concerns with leaving them on? Thank you. An Amateur Herbalist
Sunday 15th of August 2021
I do the best I can and don't stress about it. I do find it easier to remove the stems after the berries have been frozen and using a fork.
Sunday 13th of June 2021
I misread the recipe and kept my elderberrys in the vodka for 4 months instead of 4-6 weeks. Just process as normal?
Monday 14th of June 2021
Oh yes, It'll be fine.
Thursday 1st of October 2020
I made my first batch of elderberry tincture. Picks some berries and took off most stems and then put in quart jar filling it up with alcohol. Let it sit for one month and just ran it through cheese cloth to be able to now be used.
1) First question is I found a ton of white larvae worms in my elderberries when I picked them. I assume it should not affect my elderberry tincture ? Ofcourse they all died over the month that I made my tincture and none made it through my cheese cloth when I drained it.
2) Second question - is there anything I can add to make it taste better when taking like honey or anything ?
3) lastly I would like to buy some to grow myself do you recommend anywhere to get some. That one link you posted is sold out
Monday 31st of May 2021
@Greg, I add the tincture to a cup of hot tea, so you don't hardly taste it.
Tuesday 6th of October 2020
I'm not sure about the worms. I imagine it would be okay but I can't answer definitively. You can add some honey to water and put the tincture in that if you'd like. I generally just take a couple of drops at a time and don't worry about the taste. Ask local nurseries about buying plants or even running an ad in local sale groups to see if anyone has some roots or cuttings to plant your own. Many places are sold out it seems of the dried berries.
Sunday 6th of September 2020
My tincture has started to turn brown after 3 days is that normal? I used dried elderberry with vodka. Will it be ok?
Monday 7th of September 2020
I am sure it is fine as long as it's not moldy. The dried berries have less color is all.