Is Elderberry Syrup Acidic? A Detailed Guide

Elderberry syrup has been gaining popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits, particularly in boosting the immune system and fighting off colds and flu.

But have you ever wondered about the acidity of elderberry syrup? Is it safe to consume?

In this article, we will explore the pH level of elderberries, the preparation process for making elderberry syrup, and the potential health benefits of this natural remedy.

So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of elderberry syrup!

Is Elderberry Syrup Acidic?

Elderberries, the main ingredient in elderberry syrup, have a pH level of around 4.9, which is considered high. However, they are classified as a low acid food because their pH level is not less than 4.6. This means that preparation and packaging requirements for elderberry syrup are based on the food safety implications of the fruit’s natural pH exceeding food safety standards.

To make elderberry syrup safe to consume, the standard preparation method involves boiling fresh or dehydrated elderberries in water for one to two hours. The solids are then strained out, resulting in elderberry-infused water, which is added to some type of syrup, commonly honey, to make elderberry syrup.

It’s important to note that the pH of the finished syrup must be 4.1 or lower because elderberries are a low acid food. If the pH is higher than 4.1, reformulation or acidification will be required using acidifiers such as lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice, or citric acid.

What Is Elderberry Syrup?

Elderberry syrup is a natural remedy made from the berries of the Sambucus tree, which is native to Europe. The berries are commonly used to make jelly, pie, and wine, but they have also been used for hundreds or even thousands of years in folk medicine as a powerful cold preventative and remedy. Elderberry syrup is known for its high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, which can protect cells from damage and help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Elderberry syrup is made by boiling fresh or dehydrated elderberries in water for one to two hours, then straining out the solids to create an elderberry-infused water. This is then combined with some type of syrup, most commonly honey, to create the final product. The resulting syrup is a natural and effective way to support the immune system, digestive system, heart health, and respiratory health.

It’s important to note that elderberries themselves are low acid foods, with a pH level of around 4.9. However, the finished syrup must have a pH of 4.1 or lower to be safe for consumption. If the pH level is too high, acidifiers such as lemon juice or citric acid may be added to lower it to a safe level. Overall, elderberry syrup is a natural and healthy way to support overall wellness and promote immune health.

The PH Level Of Elderberries

Elderberries have a pH level of around 4.9, which is considered high. This means that they are more alkaline than acidic. However, they are still classified as a low acid food because their pH level is not less than 4.6. This is important to note because the pH level of a food determines its safety for consumption.

For example, to be a legal cottage food product, a product must be classified as non-potentially hazardous with a pH level ≤4.6 or water activity level ≤ 0.85. Elderberries have an average pH of 4.8, which means that they are at risk for botulism if jarred or home-canned. Home-canning recipes are developed for specific products and are not interchangeable with other products.

To safely home-can elderberry jam or jelly, you must weigh the ingredients to assure the correct sugar and elderberry ratio is used to control for water activity. Currently, there are no home-canning recommendations for home-canning elderberries, sauce, syrup, or juice, with the one exception being the canning of elderberry jam or jelly.

The Preparation Process For Elderberry Syrup

To prepare elderberry syrup, start by removing the stems from fresh elderberries. Then, place the elderberries in the top part of a steam juicer and steam for 30 minutes until the juice is running freely. Press the berries lightly to release as much juice as possible.

Next, draw off the hot juice into a saucepan. You should have about 4 cups of juice. Add ginger to the saucepan and simmer the juice with the ginger at low temperatures for 30 minutes until the juice is reduced to 2 cups. Remove the juice from the heat and pour it through a mesh strainer to remove any ginger pieces.

After straining, add one cup of honey to the reduced juice and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into a prepared and sanitized bottle, and label it. Keep refrigerated, and it will last for several weeks in the fridge.

It’s important to note that if you want to keep the honey raw, you should not can the syrup. Instead, refrigerate it and use it within a month or so or freeze it for longer storage. If you do decide to can it, you need to ensure that it has the right acidity level first by adding more acidifiers like bottled lemon juice.

In addition to elderberries and honey, you can add other ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, and cloves to make a more potent and flavorful syrup with added medicinal benefits. However, make sure to adjust the pH level accordingly if you add more ingredients to ensure that it’s safe for consumption.

Health Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup

Aside from its delicious taste, elderberry syrup is known for its numerous health benefits. One of the most notable benefits is its ability to prevent and alleviate cold and flu symptoms. According to double-blind tests, consuming one tablespoon of elderberry syrup four times a day at the first sign of a cold or flu can reduce the duration and severity of the virus.

Elderberry syrup is also rich in antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage and prevent heart disease and cancer. Just one cup of elderberries contains about 58% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, making it an excellent source of this essential nutrient.

In addition to its immune-boosting properties, elderberry syrup has been found to have cancer-inhibiting properties in test-tube studies. It can also fight harmful bacteria like Helicobacter pylori and may improve symptoms of sinusitis and bronchitis.

Other potential benefits of elderberry syrup include supporting the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells, protecting against UV radiation, increasing urination, and even having some antidepressant properties. However, it’s important to note that further research is needed in humans to determine the significance of these effects.

Potential Side Effects Of Elderberry Syrup

While elderberry syrup has gained popularity for its potential health benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects associated with its consumption. Elderberries contain a chemical that can produce cyanide in the unripe green fruit, leaves, or other plant parts. This can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, or more serious side effects if consumed in large quantities. It’s important to note that commercial preparations and cooked berries do not contain cyanide, so there are no reports of fatalities from consuming them.

In addition to the risk of cyanide poisoning, elderberry syrup may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, difficult breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming elderberry syrup, seek emergency medical help immediately.

Other potential side effects of elderberry syrup may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and runny nose. While these side effects are generally mild and go away on their own, if they persist or become severe, it’s important to stop using elderberry syrup and consult with a healthcare professional.

It’s also worth noting that elderberry syrup is not recommended for children and adolescents under 18 years old or pregnant or lactating women due to a lack of sufficient data on its safety in these populations.