Recipe; Elderberry Liqueur


Elder or Elderberry is one of those extremely common flowering plants found in hedgerows all around the countryside. You may also find them in gardens where they are grown mainly for their beautiful fragrant white flowers.

But did you know that the flowers and the berries are edible and that there are exciting recipes to try out?


We have already mentioned one of our favourites here on Sow and So; Elderflower Cordial, capturing that delicate fragrance of the Elderflower blossom.  With autumn the blossoms have given way to the berries and it is time for another concoction you can drink, this time with alcohol!

Elderberries 2

How to make Elderberry Liqueur;

800 ml Elderberries

70 ml bottle of Vodka

50 g sugar

The rind of half a lemon

Take the elderberries of their stalks and put them in a large jar, pour around 730 ml of the vodka over it. (You might want to keep the vodka bottle so you will need to drink the rest….), add the lemon rind and seal the jar. Place the jar somewhere dark and leave for 3 months.

Pour the sugar in the empty vodka bottle (or another bottle all together if you fancy a nicer one ) and strain the liquor over it. Shake the bottle vigorously and return to that dark place and leave for another 2 months. You will have to shake the bottle at least once a week. The elderberry liqueur is perfectly drinkable by then but it will improve with age, providing you have the patience to leave it sealed. For those of you who like their liqueurs to be a bit sweeter you can add more sugar.

Elderberry Liqueur

Other facts about Elders;

– Also known as Sambucus – The Italian liqueur Sambuca is flavoured with oil from the Elderflower

Elderberries also have medicinal purposes, treating flu and allergies.

– The berries are edible when fully ripe but the leaves, unripe berries and all other parts of the plant are poisonous.

There are many other recipes to try out with elderberries. If you run out now you might be lucky to find a few berries left by the birds!


By Laila Noort

My name is Laila Noort. Originally the gardener of a 2×2 square metre garden, balcony and windowsill in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, I am now the owner of more than 2,000 square metres of grassland in the Belgian Ardennes. I used to work as a secretary in an office but always felt there must be more to life…

2 replies on “Recipe; Elderberry Liqueur”

I just found out last fall that my bushes I planted for show are actually elderberry…fruiting. I harvested a bunch and put them in the freezer. Can you make the liqueur by actually cooking the berries and making a syrup since they are frozen? Or would it be better to thaw, and drain and then use them? This fall I will do them fresh but I do have about 6 cups of berries in the freezer I would like to use.

I would thaw them and use them, they will probably break up a bit which will add even more flavour. Not sure what cooking will do. You can always give a try right? Good Luck!!!

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