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My article, Elderberry Syrup Canning Recipe, was a huge hit! I am so thankful for each of you. With its popularity, many of you asked if you could make this amazing syrup without the sugar and instead use raw honey. So I decided to create another article dedicated to making this amazing tonic the way you like it and still being able to incorporate home canning.

Elderberry is used to make wine, jam, and syrup and some people also use elderberry to make pie filling. It has also been known to help medicinally by supporting the immune system and having antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits – specifically the Sambucus Nigra variety.

In my canning recipe, I created the Elderberry Syrup using 4 cups of raw, unbleached sugar. You may omit the sugar in my canning recipe and simply preserve the seasoned juice. Many who watch their sugar intake are opting to do this and still have elderberry in their pantry.

The reason I will not create a canning recipe using raw honey for medicinal purposes is due to the amount of heating the syrup and the canning process requires. Such exposure to heat renders the amazing properties of raw honey useless.

According to Bee Health by a university extension office, honey should not be heated rapidly, over direct heat. The hotter you heat it, the more potential for reducing nutritional value. Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey. Heating honey up to 98.6° F causes loss of nearly 200 components, part of which are antibacterial.

But there is a work around…

  1. If you are interested in making Elderberry Tonic and storing it in the refrigerator, you may do so with the addition of raw honey.
  2. You may also make my Elderberry Syrup canning recipe, omit the sugar and water bath it to make it shelf stable. Then, when you open a jar, you may mix it with raw honey and store it in a larger airtight container in the refrigerator for upwards of 6 months.

These are two excellent solutions if you wish to make a batch to store in the refrigerator during cold and flu season. Either way, you are reaping the many benefits of the elderberry and the raw honey!

Here is a simple recipe so you may make the Elderberry Tonic with Honey recipe and store it in the refrigerator.

Elderberry Tonic with Honey Recipe

Makes two 16-ounce swing top glass bottle


  • 1 cup dried elderberries or 2 cups fresh elderberries
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-3 tablespoons gingerroot, minced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried cloves (optional)
  • 1 cup raw honey


  1. If using fresh elderberries, be sure to rinse the berries well in a colander in the sink. Remove the berries from the stem by running each stem through the tines of a fork.
  2. Place the elderberries, minced gingerroot, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves in a stockpot and add water. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring often to avoid scorching. (If using dried elderberries, simmer covered for 1 hour, stirring often.)
  3. Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool to safely handle, about 20 minutes.
  4. Using a sieve or a measuring bowl covered with cheesecloth, slowly strain the elderberry ginger mixture capturing all the liquid. Feel free to allow to drain for several hours to increase the syrups concentration, otherwise allow the berries to drain for one hour. If using a sieve, mash mixture into the sieve to expel more liquid. Discard berry mixture but retain the liquid.
  5. Let elderberry liquid full cool, upwards of 1 hour. Whisk the raw honey into the elderberry liquid, being sure to thoroughly blend and disperse the raw honey.
  6. Using a narrow funnel, ladle the elderberry tonic into the swing top glass bottles and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

I hope this helps you retain the antibacterial properties of raw honey with the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of elderberry in this delicious tonic.

Diane, The Canning Diva®

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