Making 32 ounces of organic elderberry syrup with a $19.99 pouch of ingredients is an INCREDIBLE bargain. Customizing the sweetener to your needs is really appealing. The instruction card looks straightforward... but is a Sweet's DIY Kit really as easy as it looks?
I'm Tracy, a member of Team Sweet's, and I recently gave Sweet's kit-making a try in my home kitchen.
First, I gathered everything I'd need according to the instruction card, from start to finish.
This included getting containers ready. I decided to reuse a clean, empty 16 ounce Sweet's bottle and get out a couple of ice cube trays. We're big fans of Sweet's ice cubes in unsweetened tea and lemonade around here.
After pouring the correct amount of water into a large, heavy pot, I added the entire pouch contents. I brought the mixture to a simmer (not a boil!) over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
(TIP: If you wanted to add fresh grated ginger, this would be the time to do it. I didn't add ginger to this batch, but later tried it. Ginger definitely boosts the flavor and adds extra benefits for the digestive and immune systems.)
It took about 30 minutes for the uncovered syrup to reduce by half... and much less time for my kitchen to smell AWESOME.
Pic above shows syrup before it reduced... and pic below shows the reduction.
You'll want to keep an eye on the pot to ensure your syrup doesn't over-reduce. If this occurs, as long as the syrup hasn't scorched, you can reconstitute by adding back a bit of water. If your syrup does scorch, it is still drinkable, but won't taste as nice.
I let the syrup cool a bit, then poured it through a fine mesh sieve into a large glass measuring cup. Pressing the elderberry mash (the stuff left in the sieve) with the back of a metal spoon increased my syrup yield substantially.
Elderberry mash is still good for many things, like composting, crafts, and elderberry tea, to name a few. I spread it on a lined rimmed pan and set it aside to dry.
Then, because I wanted to sweeten with raw local honey, it was time to let the syrup cool. The healthful live enzymes in raw honey are destroyed by heat, so this step is critical. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I popped the syrup into my freezer for just a few minutes to speed the cooling process.
Once the syrup was below 100 degrees, I added the honey. The recipe card calls for up to a cup and a half of honey, but I chose to add just a cup.
Pouring the honey proved a bit difficult, because a fair amount stuck to the inside of the measuring cup. I added a bit of warm syrup to the honey cup and stirred, then poured it all back into the syrup. The measuring cup came clean and not a drop of honey was wasted. Score!
Before adding honey, I had 27 ounces of syrup (left). After, the cup measured about 35 ounces (right).
This yielded a 16 ounce bottle and one full ice cube tray, plus a daily dose for me and the kids. There was nearly 1/2 cup left over, which I poured into a pitcher of unsweetened green tea. This gave the tea a pretty purple hue, boosted its health benefits, and added a lovely flavor.
Cleanup was simple, and the entire process only took about an hour. The kit generated the equivalent of two large bottles for the price of one ready-made bottle. It tasted GREAT. I love the Sweet's spice blend, and found that reducing the honey to just a cup allowed those flavors to really come through.
I would definitely make kits again, and look forward to customizing a future batch with a diabetic-friendly alternative sweetener for my dad.