Elderflower syrup (Holunderblütensirup)

Making your own elderflower syrup is very popular in Switzerland. It’s a great way to preserve some of those lovely spring smells – a closed bottle of syrup can be kept for an entire year. Elder trees are mostly found in the forests and they blossom sometime around late May/early June. Of course you can buy elderflower syrup in many shops too but the homemade one tastes soo much better. You can use the syrup mixed with ice cold water, still or sparkling, which makes a refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day. Or you can also use it for making cocktails such as a Hugo (with prosecco). I’ve been making elderflower syrup every year since I was a small child. It’s my favourite syrup of all!

There’s more you can do with the Elder tree. Dried elderflowers can be used to make tea; this tea is sweat-inducing, hence it helps for colds. The dark blue, almost black, elder berries late summer are poisenous to eat raw and it’s not advised to eat too many cooked ones either. But, they’re high in vitamins and other precious things and you can use the berries to make a syrup – keep it for the winter and add hot water to make a tea with it, which helps greatly for colds and coughs. I’ll upload a recipe for the elderberries syrup in late summer. You can also cook them and add them to your porridge or müesli. But just not too many.

The recipe below is for 40 elderflowers. For the bottles photo in this blog post I used 60 elderflowers and 1.5 times of every other ingredient listed. Just so you get an idea how much syrup the recipe makes.


  • 40 elderflowers
  • 2 litres of water
  • 4 organic lemons
  • 50g citric acid (available in the pharmacy)
  • 3kg sugar

Pick the elderflowers. At home, don’t wash them but instead only gently shake them to remove any unwanted parts if needed (or don’t do anything at all which is best). Washing them would mean that the pollen is washed away which would be a shame.

Wash and slice the lemons and put all ingredients in to a large pot. Stir and then cover with a tea towel. Let it stand for 3 days. Stir it from time to time to help the sugar dissolve.

Using a muslin towel or a sieve, sieve the contents so only the juice is left. Bring the juice to the boil and fill into clean glass bottles.

Store in a dark, cool place or enjoy immediately!

9 thoughts on “Elderflower syrup (Holunderblütensirup)”

  1. My house is full of syrup bottles I got as a gift: strawberry, redcurrant, elderflower – and while they’re yummy we can never finish them all! Same goes for jams, it’s a shame.

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen

      That’s a shame indeed. We’re big jam eaters, I think we go through a jar every 2-3 weeks

  2. I have never heard of elderflowers until my son and daughter in law returned from your wonderful country. They brought me some Swiss chocolate and elderflower lozenges. Is it true that these help with autoimmune diseases?

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen

      Ah that must have been the Ricola lozenges? Yes the Elder tree is a wonderful source for delicous kitchen projects. I don’t think the lozenges help with autoimmune diseases (if we’re talking about Ricola), I haven’t heard of it at all but if anything would help then it’s probably the Elderberries not the Elderflowers. Elderberries are made into syrup for coughs in Switzerland, that’s all I’m aware of.

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen

      Hi there, there are no shops where you can buy elderflowers, you can only pick them in the forest. They bloom in late spring. A weekly walk through the forest helps not to miss the season!

  3. I have made this syrup twice in the last few years. I did not use nearly as many flowers as this recipe and it was still delicious. I give some to my neighbours, who use it to sweeten their own herbal tea. the husband is the local game master, so I sometimes get dibs on venison sausage and wild boar ribs..

    The second batch I made underwent fermentation in the bottle, which added a nice fizz when diluted, and looked cloudy in the bottle. I had to open the bottle in the garden to let off the pressure.

    Given the current unfolding coronavirus situation I am interested to get hold of some elderberries (preferably dried, considering the time of year) to make a syrup for its anti-viral properties. Would anyone know of a good source of these little vitamin bombs?

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