I have always wanted to do more with elderberries, but they aren’t always easy to find. So, I was very excited when somebody we know let us come and pick from their elderberry bushes. I guess there are maybe a few methods for picking them, but as I had never harvested elderberries before, I told my little crew to just hold the berry clusters over bags and strip the berries off the umbels into the bag. It seemed to work fairly well. We had some stained fingers when finished, but the satisfaction of a filled bag was worth it.
I brought the elderberries home, picked through them and washed them up. I only found one grasshopper in the bag….pretty sure it was from the youngest berry picker. We enjoyed elderberry pancakes over the course of the next week. Elderberries can be added to our oatmeal pancake recipe https://www.farmgirlfresh.com/oatmeal-pancakes/ or our buckwheat pancake recipe https://www.farmgirlfresh.com/buttermilk-buckwheat-pancakes/. We added 1/4 cup of these tiny purple berries to our finished batter before cooking. They gave our pancakes a delicious flavor with a little crunch, like that of poppy seeds. We loved them!
Elderberries contain iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and lots of betacarotene. They are also very high in vitamin C and boost the immune system. They are known for being beneficial for coughs, colds, and influenza. Knowing this, I knew we wanted to preserve some for the winter months. I started by making elderberry extract (tincture).
For those of you who have used our vanilla extract recipe https://www.farmgirlfresh.com/make-vanilla-extract/, the process is very similar. I filled a jar halfway full of rinsed elderberries. I then filled the rest of the jar with brandy. You could also use organic vodka, which I often use, but we wanted something a little bit milder tasting for our elderberry tincture. Cover and leave it in a place where you see it frequently so that you are reminded to shake the jar often. It will be ready to use in 6-10 weeks. The berries can then be strained out of it. The remaining liquid (extract) can be used at the first onset of any flu or cold. Take 1/4 teaspoon in a glass of water three times a day.
I also made elderberry syrup using this recipe: https://minnesotaherbalistcom.cdn.ampproject.org/how-to-make-elderberry-syrup
Little did I know we would get coughs a few weeks later. I was so glad we had made elderberry syrup ahead of time.
We froze the remaining elderberries to make more syrup as needed throughout the winter.
If you are looking for elderberries, you can purchase them dried https://www.starwest-botanicals.com/category/elder-berries/. These dried berries can also be used when making elderberry extract. Simply fill your jar one fourth full with dried berries. Fill the remaining three quarters of the jar with alcohol.