The Best of Elderberries

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The elderberry recipes here are what will make the bounty of your foraging a real prize. A recipe is what brings surprise to all you’ve gathered. There is much to learn from bringing your abundance into further form such as food or medicine. Here is a little secret for you. After gathering your elderberries, be sure to freeze them before removing the berries from the stems. When frozen, the berries pop right off the stems. Also, by taking out only the amount of elderberries needed for each recipe, you’ll be able to stretch out your berries for several months as you begin to try out the recipes.

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Easy Elderberry Jam

Ingredients
Makes: 4 jars

  • 1 kg ripe elderberries
  • 500g sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip lemon peel

Directions
Preparation:15min › Cook:20min › Ready in:35min

  1. Wash and stem the elderberries. Place them in a saucepan with a very small amount of water, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Boil until berries burst, about 10 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture to get rid of seeds and return the liquid to the saucepan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring. Boil until the jam thickens.
  3. Pour into sterilised jars and place the lids on tightly.

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Elder Flower Fritters

Elder flower fritters are truly a gift from the heavens. Gather some of the clusters of the elderberry flowers. Snip off the greenish branches connected to the flowers but keep them in a bunch ready for making fritters.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Several bunches of creamy white elder flowers

Directions:

Mix all batter ingredients together except the elder flowers until you’ve got a smooth and even batter. Dip flowers in batter and lightly fry in a skillet until golden brown. You could also try sprinkling the elder flowers directly into the batter for a lacy treat. I’ve cooked them both ways and they are both equally satisfying. Enjoy with elderberry syrup.

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Elderberry Syrup

Of all the elderberry recipes, this one might just be the most well-known classic. Used for so many different purposes, this is one of those recipes that helped elderberry make a comeback from forgotten times and helped it find its niche in health food stores.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup elderberries, stems removed
  • 3 cups water
  • Raw honey to taste

Directions:

Combining this syrup with raw honey makes a delectably dark and earthy syrup as well as a healing tonic. Elderberry syrup is good taken by the teaspoon as a medicine by itself or in warm water for chest colds, coughs, congestion, sinus discomforts and the flu every 2 – 3 hours. You can also enjoy it with pancakes, yogurt, granola or an addition with other meals.

Place elderberries in water in a large pot with berries covered with water at least two inches. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer until water is reduced to half its amount. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into a blender and blend on low briefly. If you don’t have a blender then mash berries in the pot or blend with a hand blender. Strain into mason jars and let cool. Add raw honey to create the taste you prefer. Screw on the lid and stir or shake until honey has dissolved. Syrup lasts in the refrigerator for several months.

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Elderberry Pie

Talk about easy elderberry recipes, this pie is so very simple to make. You can go for straight elderberries or add in some apples for a great taste as well. Either way you’ll come out with a rich and flavorful pie. Since most elderberries ripen towards the end of the summer, the dark colors of the elderberries contrasts with the fading colors of summertime.

For every cup of elderberries add in one tablespoon of melted butter and a teaspoon of arrowroot or cornstarch along with a hearty sprinkling of flour to serve as a thickener and to absorb the juice of the berries. Mix all this together in a bowl. If you want to add in apples then slice them up and fill your pie crust 1/2 to 3/4 full. Sprinkle with elderberries all over the apples.

Next in another bowl mix 1/2 – 1 cup of sugar with 2 – 3 tablespoons of flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Then sprinkle this on top. Now slice up and place a few tablespoons of butter on top of the pie. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes bake at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

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Elderberry Compote

You might just feel like an alchemist when you make this compote. Of all the elderberry recipes here, this one is a two day process. The reason for this is that you are giving the elderberries the time and space to cure and more completely preserve their flavors overnight.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs elderberries
  • 1 – 2 strips of lemon zest (2 inches long)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 split vanilla bean
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Directions:

In a glass bowl mix elderberries, lemon zest and vanilla bean. Cover with sugar and then with a piece of plastic wrap or a lid to set overnight. The next day take your mixture and pour it into a pot. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low. If and when you continue to see bubbles coming up remove from heat entirely. Pour into small glass bowls or jars for eating fresh or you are also welcome to can the jars for later savoring. If you choose to can your compote, fill jars leaving 1/2 inch space at the top. Clean the rims before covering with lids. Place jars in a hot water bath making sure jars are covered with water at least 1 inch. Boil jars for 15 minutes. Compote can store up to a year in a cool dark place.

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Elderberry Vinegar

Elderberry recipes like this vinegar add an extraordinary pizzazz. Including a splash of something sharp like vinegar enhances the flavors of many a meal and can be added to things like barbecue sauce and salads.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elderberries
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar, with 6% acidity

Directions:

Mix the elderberries and sugar in a pan over medium heat. Mash the elderberries and stir to help disperse the sugar into the berries. Bring to a boil, immediately remove from heat and let cool. Once completely cooled, mix berries with vinegar and cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let sit for 3 – 5 days in a cool, dark place. Strain through a sieve or strainer thoroughly. Store in a clean glass bottle. This vinegar can be stored and used for up to two years.

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Elderberry Shrub

Elderberry shrub is a timeworn term for a tart fruit-based drink. The strong flavor of elderberries offers an energizing drink with sparkling water.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elderberries
  • 1/2 – 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Sparkling carbonated water

Directions:

Pour the elderberries, sugar and water in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved immediately turn down heat and simmer 10 – 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar and bring to another boil. Turn down heat and simmer again for 15 – 20 minutes. Cool completely. Strain through a sieve or strainer. Pour liquid into a measuring cup, pressing on berries to pull out all the juice. Pour into clean glass bottle, jar or glass for drinking.

You can now either add sparkling carbonated water and enjoy fresh, or you can store in the refrigerator for up to one year and add sparkling carbonated water whenever you want to drink it. This is one of those elderberry recipes where the amount of sparkling carbonated water you mix with the volume of elderberry shrub is entirely up to your preference.

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Elderberry Fool

This recipe was originally a custard type dish (comprising of milk, eggs and sugar) and dates back to medieval times. Modern recipes have customarily replaced the custard for cream or pre-made whipping cream.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream (raw cream is recommended)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup elderberry syrup or compote
  • Grated zest of 1 – 2 lemons

Directions:

Combine cream, sugar and salt and whip until cream holds firm peaks. Gently fold in 1/2 cup of elderberry syrup/compote, creating a marbled effect in the cream all the while being careful to not lose the firmness of cream. Divide among 6 – 8 bowls or glasses and top with lemon zest. If you don’t want swirls in your fool you can go with plain elderberries mixed in the cream instead of syrup or compote. Either way it’s a teasingly delicious dessert.

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Elderberry Elixir

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elderberries
  • 3 cups brandy or vodka
  • 1 cup honey

Directions:

Fill a quart jar half full with elderberries. Pour enough alcohol to fill the jar ¾ full and then top with honey. Stir the honey in with the berries until fully mixed. Top off with more honey until the jar is full and stir again. Seal the jar and label. Let sit for 3 weeks and shake daily. After 3 weeks strain berries from the elixir. Take 1 -3 teaspoons daily to help keep the flu at bay.

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Elderberry Wine

When the weather turns colder, and you find yourself in front of the fire, it’s the perfect time to enjoy a glass of elderberry wine.

Patience is required. Like red wine grapes they are high in tannin and so the wine needs time to mature.

Ingredients

  • 2½ lb elderberries
  • Campden tablets
  • 2½, 2¾ or 3 lb sugar (use the lowest amount of sugar for a dry wine, next for a medium dry wine and the higher sugar for a medium sweet)
  • Wine yeast
  • Yeast nutrient
  • Water
  • Gloves – particularly when handling the berries as they can die your skin purple!

Method

  1. Strip the elderberries from the stalks and wash well
  2. Put into a fermenting bin and crush, either using gloved hands or a potato masher
  3. Pour on 4 pints of water
  4. Add 1 Campden tablet, crushed and dissolved in a little warm water to kill off any wild yeasts
  5. Boil half of the sugar in 2 pints of water for 2 or 3 minutes and, when cool, mix into the pulp
  6. Add the yeast (6g) and nutrient and cover and allow to ferment for 5 days, stirring daily
  7. Strain and press and return the liquor to a clean fermenting bin
  8. Boil the rest of the sugar in 1 pint of water for 2 or 3 minutes and, when cool, add to the liquor
  9. Cover again and leave for 3 or 4 days
  10. Pour carefully or syphon into a gallon jar. Try and leave as much of the sediment behind as possible
  11. Fill up the jar with cooled, boiled water to where the neck begins
  12. Fit a fermentation lock and leave until fermentation has finished
  13. Rack your wine (which means to move your wine into a fresh container) adding a Campden tablet after the first fermentation
  14. Syphon into bottles
  15. Enjoy

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Elderberry Sorbet

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 500ml elderberry syrup
  • 110ml apple juice

Method

  1. Mix together the elderberry syrup and apple juice.
  2. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until thick.
  3. Freeze the sorbet for at least 1 hour until set.

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Elderberry Liqueur

  • 800ml of elderberries
    750ml bottle of vodka
    50g sugar
    The rind of half a lemon

Put elderberries into large jar and pour all but the last 20ml of vodka over them, drink the last 20ml of vodka and keep the bottle. Add the lemon rind (with as little pith as humanly possible). Seal then shake the jar and put into a dark cupboard for three months.

Pour sugar into the vodka bottle and strain the liquor over the top of it – you may wish to “upgrade” to a 750ml swing topped bottle for aesthetic reasons. Shake vigorously and return to the cupboard for at least two months, shaking every time you remember it is there (once a week for the first week, then less). After this time it is perfectly drinkable but, if you can manage to restrain yourself, it will improve with age as long as it is left sealed.

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  • Use the berries as you would black currants or blackberries. You can combine them with apples in charlottes, pies, and crumbles. They add both luscious flavour and gorgeous colour.
  • Fold elderberries into a bread dough. For a sweet treat, either add to a sweet dough or mix the berries with sugar before adding.
  • Swirl your elderberry syrup into ice cream or make a stunning elderberry sorbet
  • Substitute the syrup for expensive and over-rated cassis. It can also replace Angostura bitters in gin or vodka.
  • Add a dash of syrup to champagne for a forager’s kir. A bit of syrup also takes cider to the next level.
  • Brew up some of Andy Hamilton’s elderberry liqueur! It’s easy to make…but not easy to wait five months!
  • Go with tradition and try your syrup by the spoonful for cold or flu relief, or add to hot water for a comforting night-time drink. Foodie friend Carol commented on the blog that adding cloves and/or ginger to the syrup is great for winter coughs and colds!