The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Elderberry Tincture and Vodka-soaked Holdermus

A few days ago I finished straining out the berries from two large jars of elderberry tincture which I had made in the autumn. This is a simple to make cold remedy – just strip your haul of ripe elderberries roughly from their stalks, put them in a large glass jar, cover them with vodka, leave to soak for at least six weeks in a dark place and then strain into bottles. Take a quarter teaspoon daily as a preventative, three teaspoons daily as a treatment.

Elderberry tincture

The tincture is something that I’ve been making for the last few years and take a sip of every day throughout the winter and spring as a cold and flu preventative. It has been a huge health breakthrough for me because I no longer get regular winter colds, which in the past would often lead to debilitating chest infections that made my asthma worse and required antibiotic treatment. My family teases me that it is the vodka in the tincture which keeps the viruses at bay but science suggests otherwise!

Another elderberry product is holdermus (German for ‘elderberry mush’), a curious slightly smokey flavoured elderberry pudding that a friend served me years ago. I’ve been meaning to make it myself ever since – but once again I failed to get around to it this year. So I wondered if I could make it from the strained tincture berries.


Here is the recipe for holdermus.


It looks pretty good in the photo above but after repeated sampling I decided that the vodka flavour was very strong and not really in a pleasant way! More sampling was required as I experimented to ameliorate it. First by adding custard – which didn’t really work, and then (having noticed that some holdermus recipes include apple – and sometimes pear and plum too) by adding a rough apple puree.

Holdermus with custard and with apple

The apple holdermus was quite palatable but I still didn’t want to eat it all up. The fresh berry version will definitely have to made next autumn.

Slightly woozy now! Happy Christmas/Yuletide!

Flower candle

2 comments on “Elderberry Tincture and Vodka-soaked Holdermus”

    Hi Backyard Larder,
    I’ve done something similar with elderberries this year. I’ve put them into raw apple cider vinegar. I use the vinegar on salads, it’s a bit like balsamic, lovely flavour. Or I pour some into a glass of water. Lots of health benefits and tastes great. Happy Christmas ? X


    Hi Debra, That sounds good. After writing this I discovered I’d put some elderberries in the freezer – so I can try some holdermus with non-alcoholic berries, and some of your elderberry vinegar too. Lovely to hear from you on here!


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