Elderberries should not be eaten raw in any quantities, and the small twigs they hang from are toxic.
A few bits in your cleaned berries are inevitable and wont do any harm. This is one of my core wild larder staples that I just couldn’t do without, and I get itchy every autumn until i’ve stashed enough berries in the freezer to make a huge batch. Its always a hit on my foraging walks, either as a salad dressing or to add sweet and sour fruitiness to drinks. Its also rammed with flavanoids, anthocyanins and vitamins A and C, so you can feel a bit better abbout the vast amount of sugar in it! A spoon a day keeps the colds at bay.
- Remove the elderberries from their umbels using a fork or place them in the freezer and remove the berries easily while they are still frozen
- Weigh the berries before placing them in a suitable kilner or tub then add 500ml of apple cider vinegar for every 350g of fruit
- Leave covered for 3-5 days, stirring occasionally
- Strain off the liquid (discard the berries) and add 350g of sugar per 260ml of liquid
- Simmer for 10 minutes then bottle.
This recipe also works well for other fruits such as blaeberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, but I think find elderberries most satisfying.
The pink foam that forms during the simmer tastes amazing – like gooey sweet/sour sweets. Try dehydrating it.
I am indebted to Miles Irving who published the basis for this recipe in his excellent Forager Handbook, and he in turn attributes it to forager-herbalist Mandy Oliver.
For more information on elder, elderflowers and elderberries, see here.