Elderberry is one of those things I like to keep in my medicine cabinet for both young and old. It is good to take as a preventative to the cold and other nasty bugs you can pick up here and there. We also take it at the first sign of sniffles, aches, or flu-like symptoms. It works better than I could have ever imagined.

Those little tincture bottles, though, are $10 a pop and I always like to know how to do things myself in the spirit of home-based productivity. So I did a bit of research to make a less expensive homemade tincture.

I came across a lot of complicated methods online and then looked through a wonderful resource, Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal. This book simplifies all of the herbal preparation methods. I looked up her simple method for glycerin tincture making (because I know this is easy to give to children) and went to work.

Elderberry Glycerin Tincture



  1. Combine vegetable glycerin and water in a 1:1 ratio and set aside. In a quart jar place about 1/2 pound of the dried elderberries. Pour over the glycerin-water mixture until well covered and saturated. Place the lid on and keep in a dark place.
  2. Shake the jar every day to distribute the berries and glycerin. Let sit, shaking daily, for about a month. 
  3. Strain the liquid off from the berries using cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a thin old towel. Be sure to squeeze all of the liquid out of the berries.
  4. Store in an airtight container. I used an old kombucha bottle and yielded about two cups of tincture.

Cost Analysis

  • glycerin (~ 8 oz) = $3.48
  • elderberries (~1/2 lb) = $4.00
  • water (~ 8 oz) = $0

Total = $7.48

While I can’t be sure that my tincture is as effective or concentrated as the professionally produced ones I can still guess that at $.47/oz my tincture is still a better value than the $5-$10/oz bottles you can purchase at the health food store. And next I will have to experiment with alcohol-based tinctures.

Have you ever made a tincture? What method did you use?


15 Responses to making: elderberry glycerin tincture

  1. I love that book. I’ve ordered my elderberries and am waiting for them to come. I will make a vodka tincture when they arrive. I like a tincture vs. syrup since I don’t like using all that sweetener.


    Shannon Reply:

    Renee – Maybe a picture tutorial over at FIMBY? :)


    renee @ FIMBY Reply:

    @Shannon, I’m back this morning reading your recipe while I make both a glycerin and vodka tincture. I decided to make a glycerin one as well in case I need to give it in high doses to one of the kiddos. They like alcohol enough as it is (can I have a sip of that beer?) without giving them copious amounts of vodka when they are sick.

    As for the photos. Laurent is using my camera right now to take photos of his legos… If I can wrestle it away from him then I just might post a tutorial : )


  2. Jessica T. says:

    This post came at a very opportune time as I’m about to embark on my first tincture-making experiment (one with plain elderberries and one with a combination of elderberries, echinacea and some other herbs). Even though it will technically involve making two different tinctures, I think I’m going to make an alcohol-based one and a glycerin one and combine them…which supposedly make them more effective and the shelf-life longer (from the alcohol), yet still make them more palatable for little ones (from the glycerin). So we’ll see how that goes!


  3. Granola Girl says:

    This is rad. We are elderberry nuts over here too and I hear you about the price! My goodness, what a racket. I’m totally stoked to try this once we move and I can have odd bottles and jars of stuff around again!


  4. Eve says:

    Yay! I used her method and made the same recipe last year, so I am totally excited to see this! There are not very many blog posts or tutorials for this method and I think it’s so great you posted this. I like the idea to strain through a coffee filter…totally going to ‘borrow’ that idea. That would work better than several layers of cheesecloth I used last time I tinctured.


  5. Carol Bahr says:

    How do you administer this to a child/adult (quantity and how often?) From the small research I’ve done, it seems the syrup can be eaten daily on oatmeal/food as a preventative. Do you only give the glycerin tincture when sick or becoming sick? Thanks for your help – great post!


  6. Cara says:

    That’s a great idea! I was going to do a vodka tincture with them, but I haven’t gotten around to buying the vodka yet but I have glycerin in my cabinet. I’ve made a tincture of Shepard’s Purse for birthing, Chasteberry for hormonal regulation, and then just vanilla that is sorta tinctureish :)


  7. Becca says:

    This is so great to know about. I would love to be able to make my own. Any recommendations for sources of the elderberries?


  8. Candace says:

    I make several tinctures with homegrown herbs. I make all of mine with high quality vodka because it will last indefinitely and I believe the alcohol draws out more of the medicinal qualities. I just dilute the medicine in water when we take it.
    I have made lemon balm (anti-viral and anti-depressant), echinacea (works incredibly well), St. John’s Wort (anti-depressant for SAD and great for nerve pain esp when combined with topical application), chamomile (relaxant), skullcap (great to settle the mind), catnip (headaches, fever, colds, relaxant), lavender, rosemary, and allheal.


  9. [...] fall I made both a vodka tincture and glycerin tincture. After they were done infusing and I had strained out the berries, I mixed the two together for a [...]

  10. [...] fall I made both a vodka tincture and glycerin tincture. After they were done infusing and I had strained out the berries, I mixed the two together for a [...]

  11. [...] This recipe based on this post by Nourishing Days. [...]

  12. You can speed up this process by placing your jar of glycerin tincture in a slow cook on low or warn setting and allowing it to remain for 3 days. Strain & use immediately. This is good to know if you are out and someone is sick.

    I make a tincture I call “Mellow Moments.” It has been found to be very helpful with children that are hyperactive, ADD, ADHD and for adults as well. It seems to have a balancing effect and although it does not “knock” you out it helps you to relax and sleep well. Many children’s problems are caused by lack of sleep and this seems to really help. It is made with Passion Flower, Lemon Balm and Valerian Root.It seems to help these children focus better during the day as well.


  13. [...] "Farmers Market" yesterday I saw some that were doing that. Just another way to medicate: making: elderberry glycerin tincture __________________ I'm not crazy, I'm a Pisces [...]

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