Does Elderberry Syrup Need to Be Refrigerated?


Elderberry is a fruit that comes from the elderberry shrub. Elderberries tend to be dark purple in color and are a rich source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins. Many have used elderberry syrup to cure illnesses, such as the common cold, hay fever, the flu, and sinus infections. You may have bought elderberry syrup for this purpose, but what is the proper way to store it?

Elderberry syrup should be kept in the refrigerator where it will last up to 3 months. Elderberries are fruit, and fruit juices like elderberry syrup, will start to ferment when left out for too long. Most elderberry syrups do not contain preservatives, so they should be kept in the fridge to stay fresh.

Continue reading to learn more about the proper way to store elderberries and elderberry syrup. By reading this article, you will also learn how long elderberry syrup will last before going bad as well as how you can tell when elderberry syrup has gone bad.

Storing Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry, much like any other fruit, will begin to ferment if left out for too long. It is best to store elderberry syrup in a glass jar in the fridge. This will allow for the elderberry syrup to stay good for three months.

There are some elderberry syrups that will include honey as one of its main ingredients. This can make people think that the honey will act as some form of preservative and keep the elderberry syrup good for longer, but this is a misconception. 

While honey is a preservative in its original state, the honey is put through a process in which it is diluted to be incorporated in the elderberry syrup, and this allows for it to ferment as well.

You can find a suitable jar like this at any local home goods store. They might even already exist inside your closet or pantry.

If you cannot access these, you can also try using Tupperware or another glass container for storage. The best containers have an amber hue to keep any form of aging and light out.

Refrigeration of Elderberry Syrup

Since elderberries and elderberry syrup can begin to ferment if left out for too long, it is recommended to keep them in the refrigerator. It does not matter whether the elderberry syrup is homemade or store-bought as both should be kept refrigerated in order to keep the syrup from fermenting or molding.

Elderberry syrup that is properly made can be stored in a container for approximately two to three months before it will start to go bad. If you choose to store the syrup outside the refrigerator, there is a chance that the syrup will not last as long as the elderberry syrup will begin to ferment.

Should Elderberry Syrup Be Refrigerated Before Opening?

Elderberry syrup does not need to be refrigerated before being opened, but it is recommended. 

If you do not plan on opening your container or elderberry syrup for a while, it is recommended to still store the syrup in the refrigerator as the syrup will last longer than it will be being stored at room temperature, such as on the counter or in the pantry.

How Long Does Elderberry Syrup Last?

Small Bottle of Elderberry Syrup

As previously stated, elderberry syrup does tend to last longer if it is kept in the refrigerator rather than keeping it out on the counter. Where and how you choose to store your elderberry syrup will influence how long it will last.

If kept in the refrigerator in a jar, elderberry syrup can last for approximately two to three months before it begins to go bad. This is the same for both store-bought elderberry syrup and homemade elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup that is kept either on the counter or in the freezer will have a different shelf-life.

Shelf-life of Canned Elderberry Syrup

Shelf-life refers to the length of time in which an item remains stable, saleable, or fit for consumption. 

The shelf-life of elderberry syrup can vary depending on if you choose to keep your syrup in the fridge, in the freezer, or on the counter. As previously discussed, elderberry syrup that is kept in the refrigerator can stay good for anywhere from two to three months before going bad.

When keeping elderberry syrup out on the counter, where it is kept at room temperature, the syrup has a shelf-life of approximately one to two weeks before it may start to go bad. It is possible, however, to make homemade shelf-stable elderberry syrup, and this will last much longer at room temperature than store-bought elderberry syrup.

How Long Does Homemade Elderberry Syrup Last?

It is possible to make your own elderberry syrup at home rather than purchasing some from the store. You may be wondering, however, if homemade elderberry syrup would last as long as elderberry syrup that is bought from the store.

While store-bought elderberry syrup will more than likely include a label that will inform you as to when the syrup will begin to go bad, homemade elderberry syrup can last for two to three months if stored properly in the refrigerator.

Once opened, homemade elderberry syrup will last:

  • For four to seven days on the counter
  • For two to three weeks in the fridge
  • For one to three months in the freezer

Once opened, elderberry syrup tends to last a shorter amount of time rather than when it is left unopened. This is important to know as many of the time estimates of the shelf-life of elderberry syrup that has been stated previously in the article refer to servings of elderberry syrup that have remained unopened.

How Long Does Elderberry Syrup Last In The Freezer?

The freezer makes a great place to store your elderberry syrup. If you keep your elderberry syrup in the freezer, it tends to last much longer than if you kept it on the counter or in the refrigerator.

While determining how long store-bought elderberry syrup will last in the freezer depends on the date on which the product is labeled to begin going bad, homemade elderberry syrup can last anywhere from five to six months if left in the freezer when they are stored properly.

The freezer tends to increase the shelf-life of elderberry syrup, as well as other consumable products, as freezing tends to cause spoilage delays and prevents the microorganisms that can cause food to spoil from growing.

Does Elderberry Syrup Mold?

Elderberry syrup does mold. Mold is one of the most common indicators for knowing when foods or other consumables have gone bad. 

While elderberry syrup is used more for its medicinal and healing properties, the product does still mold as it is made from the elderberry fruit, which like all other fruits does spoil and mold when it goes bad.

Mold is a fungus that releases chemicals that will make a food begin to rot in order to break the food down. When you find mold in your elderberry syrup, it is best to dispose of it as the mold could have spread throughout the syrup, and consuming mold can make you sick.

Shelf-Stable Elderberry Syrup

While elderberry syrup does not tend to last longer when kept at room temperatures, such as on a counter or shelf, it is possible to make elderberry syrup that is shelf-stable and that does last longer when stored at room temperature.

There are many different recipes online for how to make elderberry syrup and how to make shelf-stable elderberry syrup. Two great websites that have instructions on how to make shelf-stable elderberry syrup are Joybilee Farm and Mountain Rose Herbs.

How to Make Shelf-Stable Elderberry Syrup

If you are willing to put in the effort, you can make your elderberry syrup shelf-stable. This step means you can keep it outside the fridge, stored on a shelf at room temperature without fear of rot.

This recipe for making shelf-stable elderberry syrup consists of two parts, and the two parts are combined in order to make the shelf-stable elderberry syrup. You can find this recipe in full here.

Ingredients

All the ingredients that are used in the recipe to make shelf-stable elderberry syrup include:

  • 1 cup of dried elderberry or 2 cups of fresh elderberries
  • 1 cup of brandy
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of honey
  • Optional ingredient: 2-inch piece of sliced ginger

This list of ingredients is for the entire recipe. This does not mean that all of the ingredients will be used in the first part of making your shelf-stable elderberry syrup.

Instructions

For instructions to make this recipe, it is best to look here. Joybilee Farm has an amazing recipe for making your own shelf-stable elderberry syrup. The instructions are broken into two parts. The second part of the recipe is completed after two weeks from the completion of the first part.

If done correctly, you should be able to make elderberry syrup that can last for up to one year after you jar your syrup. You still want to consider keeping the syrup in the fridge or the freezer in order to make it last longer, but this shelf-stable elderberry syrup should last for a good amount of time when left out at room temperature.

It might take a few tries to get this recipe right. After a while, you can perfect this liquid without issue.

The shelf-stable syrup is great because you do not need to worry about keeping it refrigerated. You can even sell it at a farmer’s market for all to benefit from regarding their health. Shelf-stable syrup rarely rots unless exposed to harsh heat or sunlight.

How to Tell If Elderberry Syrup Has Gone Bad?

Spoonful of Elderberry Syrup

Over time, elderberry syrup, like many other items we use for consumption or medicinal purposes, can go bad. As previously discussed, the location and temperature in which you choose to store your elderberry syrup can determine how quickly the syrup will go bad.

When it comes to checking whether or not your elderberry syrup is still viable for consumption, it is best to first look to see if any mold has grown on the syrup. This is a common indicator of consumable items, such as foods, going bad. 

Mold typically helps to break the food down by producing chemicals that will make the food rot. Eating mold has the potential of making you sick. If you spot mold in your elderberry syrup, it is best to dispose of the syrup as the mold will spread throughout the whole of the syrup leaving none of it viable to be consumed.

Other than mold, there are many other signs that may point to your elderberry syrup having gone bad. See below to find what these include.

Mold on elderberry syrup is typically white, gray, or greenish-yellow. It will be apparent and visible on the surface of your creation.

These are the two most apparent indicators that syrup has gone bad.

Discoloration

This discoloration could be in the form of the color of the elderberry syrup being either fainter. While it may not be the entirety of the syrup that has become discolored, there could be spots in the syrup that have discoloration. This is a sign that your elderberry syrup is going bad.

Smell

Elderberry syrup tends to smell nice. If your elderberry syrup has an unpleasant smell or an offensive odor, this is also a sign that your elderberry syrup is going bad or has already gone bad.

This process happens naturally with exposure to air. You will be able to smell this in the syrup as a bitter smell, strongly resembling wine or alcohol without the sweetness. At this point, you should either throw it away or reboil it.

Poor Taste

Since elderberries themselves will have a bitter taste, the bitter taste is not what can point to whether or not the elderberry syrup is going bad. When it comes to taste, a sour taste or a faint taste can be an indication of your elderberry syrup going bad. If your elderberry syrup is tasteless, it has gone bad and should be thrown away.

Final Thoughts

Elderberry syrup is a unique concoction that has many health benefits. From boosting your immune system to lessening stress, this item can serve you well in any stage of life.

Elderberries and elderberry syrup are great methods of curing illnesses, such as the common cold, the flu, or a sinus infection due to anthocyanins. It is important to know the proper way to store elderberry syrup, and the shelf-life of elderberry syrup, which can depend on where you decide to keep it stored.

It is best to keep elderberry syrup refrigerated. This can allow for the syrup to last anywhere from two to three months. Elderberry syrup only lasts for about one to two weeks when kept at room temperature, such as when you decide to keep it on the counter. 

Elderberry syrup can last for about five to six months if kept unopened in the freezer. Once opened, however, it may only last from one to three months.

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