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?