Cooking up homemade elderberry syrup

Hinckley resident helps locals fight off post-pandemic germs

by Chris Studor

Achoo! The beginning of fall ushers in the cold and flu season and Hinckley resident, Jen Leichliter, is cooking up batch after batch of elderberry syrup to help keep area residents healthy.

What started out as a hobby 10 years ago has turned into a healthy home-based business as Elderberry Syrup by Jen is frequently being sold at craft shows and markets, such as The Mustard Seed in Fairlawn, Alison’s Super Food in Strongsville, Greensmith Landscaping in Hinckley, and Marigold Wellness Center in Sharon Center, not to mention a brisk online business at

There is research that suggests taking elderberry syrup can shorten the duration of colds and other viruses and lessen symptoms, explains Leichliter.

“I began making the syrup when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom,” said Leichliter. “I noticed my young children were getting a lot of colds. I felt my oldest child was bringing home a lot of germs from pre-school. At first I started buying bottles of commercially made elderberry syrup but I didn’t like the added ingredients and those little bottles of syrup were expensive and we were going through a lot.  After doing a lot of research I decided to start making my own.”

Leichliter said she uses all organic elderberries she purchases from midwestern farm. Additional ingredients include natural honey from a beekeeper in Medina, as well as lemon juice. For good measure there’s a dash of ginger, which Leichliter said is good for inflammation.

This fall, her syrup will feature a new “secret” ingredient – a berry shown to have the same beneficial components as elderberry.

“I start making my elderberry syrup in the fall,” she said. “I get up at 6:15 a.m. and with my two helpers start cooking five, 6-gallon pots of elderberries at a time,” explained Leichliter. “I cook the berries for 40 minutes for processing. I am fortunate that Our Savior Lutheran Church allows me to use their kitchen, especially now that we are cooking bigger batches and using larger pots. The church staff has become like family to us and we greatly appreciate the use of the kitchen.”

Helping out in the kitchen are her friends Caryn Basemore and Annie Ricker. Leichliter said in addition to help cooking, the duo serves as her taste testers, “determining whether a batch may need a little more honey or lemon.” She said sometimes a batch of syrup may need adjustment adding that summer honey is sweeter than fall honey, for example.

Leichliter said she holds certification from the Ohio Department of Agriculture certifying that her elderberry syrup is of the proper pH (level of acidity) to allow storage and for which she had to take instructional classes for licensing. She added that once the bottle is open, the syrup needs to be refrigerated. Leichliter said that refrigerated, a bottle of syrup, is good for 45-60 days. Additionally, if there is unused syrup it can be frozen in ice cube trays to extend the life of the product.

Leichliter is also working on making elderberry gummies which will be vegan and she hopes to have for sale at Hinckley Holiday Market on Saturday, Nov. 19.

“I am really glad I took the chance, moving out of my comfort zone, to try my hand at something totally different,” said Leichliter. “It’s really rewarding when you get a chance to meet someone who has been using your product, it’s like meeting an old friend.”   

Featured Photo: Cooking up batches of elderberry syrup in the kitchen at Our Savior Lutheran Church is Hinckley resident, Jen Leichliter. She started out cooking up small batches for her family and now she has a thriving business. Photo by Chris Studor