I remember when I was a kid, my mother had an elderberry bush at one corner of the house and every year she would pick the berries and we would have elderberry and blackberry or elderberry and apple upside-down cakes and pies throughout the winter season. She also made elderberry jelly which we ate regularly on toast and on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
As an adult now, I don’t have my own elderberry bush, but recently my husband and I have been harvesting some down by the river. Two years ago, we made an elderberry tonic, which not only tasted good but supposedly kept us from getting respiratory illnesses. (Neither of us caught C-19 but that might have also been because we also got our C-19 shots.)
This year my husband wants me to make more tonic, but I really want to make some jelly. He’s planning to go back to the river to get more so perhaps we can do both.
Elderberries are highly nutritious, can be used medically, in personal care, and is also delicious.
Elderberry Nutritional Value
Elderberries are high in vitamin C (52.2 milligrams per cup) and dietary fiber (10.2 grams per cup). One cup of elderberries also has 26.7 grams of carbs, 0.7 grams of fat, and one gram of protein.
Elderberry is an antioxidant, and researchers think the compound that makes it blue lowers inflammation. This same color can be used for food coloring.
If you don’t need elderberries to produce the color you can use them for something else because elderberries have many uses. They can be used medically and made into syrups, tonics, tinctures, gummies, lozenges, pills, and teas.
They can also be used in body lotions, jams, baked goods (with another fruit is best), and wine.
- Always cook your elderberry berries before consuming and never eat any of the rest of the plant or unripe berries because they contain poison. Other parts of the elder tree, including the branches, twigs, leaves, roots, and seeds contain a type of cyanide called glycoside.
- Poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Larger amounts can cause more serious poisoning symptoms.
- Never consume elderberry if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Individuals with an immune deficiency may have reactions to elderberry.
- If you get a rash or have trouble breathing after you have some, you might be allergic to it.
- Because it’s a diuretic, be careful when you take it if you’re also using medicines that make you pee more.
- Always consult your doctor if you’re thinking about taking elderberry.
Planting My Own Elderberries
I want to grow elderberries where I live so that I don’t have to go down to the river to harvest some. One of the things that I just did which might produce elderberry bushes is I threw the elderberries that I am not using for the tonic and jelly into the perennial garden at the edge of the yard and perhaps they will grow. If not, I have other alternatives in mind.
Elderberries are supposed to be easy to grow from cuttings so this fall, we are going to get some of the cuttings from some of our favorite plants down by the river and plant those cuttings along with willow cuttings with the intention of having both root into the soil. Willow cuttings have a natural growth hormone that stimulates growth in other plants including elderberries.
If that doesn’t work, I can still purchase elderberry plants either at a nursery or online and can even purchase elderberry seeds online as well. As you can tell, I want to add elderberries to my own yard.
How about you? Do you grow elderberries? What’s your favorite way of using them? Please share in the comments below.