Every year we go foraging for wild Elderberries along the back country roads here. Native to North America and loving soggy ground they can be found on the edges of woodlands, swamps, and ditches. We begin looking for them in the spring when their pretty little white flowers form white umbrella like clusters making them easy to spot as we travel about and we always stop and check our ID. Elderflowers are sometimes confused for Hemlock which looks very similar so learn to identify both and if you are ever unsure don't pick or eat. Hemlock is deadly ! This is elderflowers. They always grow off a tree like bush and many little flowers will form beautiful unbrella like clusters all over. If you find only one in an area you can gather the flowers but don't expect to get berries. The trees need two to produce.
Poisonous hemlock will have carrot like foilage and white unbrella like clusters and can also be found in soggy areas but grows more like a weed ( think Queens anne lace ) This is deadly if you confuse the two so proper ID is a MUST. If in doubt throw it out.
We always gather up a few of the blossoms to make elderflower wine, a rare spring time treat here. Our real joy comes when the berries start to ripen and can be brought home for processing.
Elderberries (Sambucus) have been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. These little berries are useful for lowering cholesterol, improving vision, boosting the immune system, improving heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections. They contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitamin A and B and a large amount of vitamin C.
Berries should always be cooked since raw berries can be poisonous. Turn them into jam, syrup or wine and you will have a winter time treat that will help fight colds and flu over the winter and taste great at the same time or dry them in the oven on low / freeze and add to bake goods. Every Summer I will make up a large batch of syrup for our home to help during cold and flu season, many will be given away to others before its over. Elderberry wine is another one we do and are expecting to make over 20 gallons this year of delicious goodness and I always have dried berries on hand for the niece who prefers her cold remedy in tea form, she calls it feel better tea.
1 cup fresh elderberries, 3 cups water, 1 cup honey
Place elderberries, water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash berries to release juice; strain the mixture through a fine sieve, retaining juice and discarding the pulp. Let juice cool. Stir in honey until thoroughly combined and transfer to a lidded jar. Keeps in refrigerator 2 to 3 months. To water bath can I add in a few teaspoons of lemon juice and process for 15 min. and I have swapped out the honey for sugar without any issues. You can also add in Cinnamon, ginger and clove. This stuff is great on pancakes, over ice cream or just put a teaspoon in your hot tottie on a cold day when you don't feel well.
1 cup fresh or frozen elderberries
Stir together dry ingredients. Beat egg, applesauce and berries together. Stir berry mix into dry mix until well moistened. Bake in greased (or lined) muffin tins at 425º for 15-20 minutes.
Place 1-3 tsp dried elderberries in a tea strainer or tea bag. Cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let steep 5-10 minutes. Remove berries. Sweeten if desired. Enjoy a nice, healthy cup of tea. For a more intense flavor, you can pulverize dried elderberries in a coffee or spice grinder. You’ll only need about 1 tsp pulverized elderberry per cup of tea.
Place elderberries in a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water. Boil for 30 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm. Strain elderberries through a jelly bag or flour sack towel, squeezing until the pulp is very dry. Pour your juice back into the pot adding in the 8 cups of sugar and stir until dissolved then bottle into a carboy ( a plastic water jug will work just fine ) and top with an airlock and allow to ferment for 3 weeks. We usually rack it at this point ( moving it into a clean bottle leaving behind as much of the ick at the bottom as possible) and leave it sit for another week or two with an airlock to make sure its fully done then bottle and cork. ( you can do it sooner but you might end up with more of a champagne sytle drink if the yeast hasn't fully finished. I'm not found of bubbles lol