Elderberries and Flowers are the medicinal parts and used extensively in jams, pies, wine, cordials, juice and in medicinal supplements.
Elder Flowers: are collected just before the peak bloom time. They are small, white, and plentiful forming large flattened corymbs with a strong pleasant scent. Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, gathers the flowers both for drink and for food. Remember where you pick the flowers you will not find berries later in the season. So it is best to randomly pick the flowers over many limbs in order to reap the reward of berry picking later on. Elder flowers were also an ingredient in an ointment used to dress wounds, burns, scalds, chapped hands. In the early wars elder flower ointment treated wounded horses. Elder flower water was a household remedy to keep skin fair and free of blemishes.
Elder Berries: One of the most common uses of elderberries and probably most known is elderberry wine and cordials. These concoctions and the juice of elderberry is one of the best known prevention against the flu and chills.
Nutrition Facts: “According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a cup of elderberries yields .96 g of protein, .72 g of fat, 26.68 g of carbohydrates and 10.2 g of total dietary fiber, all at a modest 106 calories. Elderberries are cholesterol-free, virtually fat-free and low in sodium.”
I found this great site and recipe for Elderberry syrup which can be put on ice cream, cakes, sorbets, pancakes etc…I usually buy elderberry jam at my local farmers market and keep some for winters use. This is well worth the time.
Makes 3 pints.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 3 pounds elderberries, destemmed
- 4 cups sugar
- You will need to remove the berries from the stems; elderberry stems are toxic. (I go through some tricks on destemming elderberries here.) It should take you about 45 minutes to an hour to destem 3 pounds of elderberries, which equates to about a half a normal paper grocery bag.
- At this point you can empty your berries into a large bowl of ice water. Weird debris will float, like dead flower husks, bugs, etc. Pour this off.
- Pour the elderberries into a large pot and either mash them thoroughly with a potato masher, or, better yet, with an immersion blender. Only break up the berries for a few seconds using the immersion blender, and use it on low setting. You don’t want to grind up the seeds, which are bitter.
- Bring the elderberries to a boil, stirring often. Now, if you are using a food mill, set it up with its finest plate and pour the elderberries into it. Run the food mill until the mash is pretty dry, then squeeze out any remaining elderberry juice. You should have a little more than 1 quart. If you are using the jelly bag method. Mash the berries again after they’ve boiled, then pour them into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl. Let this drain for 1 hour. You should have a little less than 1 quart.
- If you are using the food mill, pour the juice through your finest mesh sieve to catch any stray seeds or pulp. You don’t need to do this with the jelly bag method.
- Return the juice to the (cleaned) pot and add an equal volume of sugar, normally about 4 cups. Bring to a boil until it froths, then turn off the heat and pour into clean jars. Always use a new canning lid when you are making this syrup, unless you plan on eating it in the next few weeks. Seal the jars and let stand until the lids pop.