Notes from Windward: #67


Elderberry options

Lindsay talks about another of our wild resources

     Elderberry trees, or Sambucus spp, grow abundantly near Windward, along roadsides and rivers or in open fields, in places where the plant can receive enough sunlight and moisture. The berries, small and blue, are rather tart for eating fresh, but work well in jams and can be used to make elderberry wine or mead. And they are ripe and ready for gathering now.


     Some sources suggest not eating the raw berry, as they may induce nausea, but it seems this may occur if large quantities are eaten, or if the green, immature berries are eaten. Cooking the berries or dehydrating them removes the potentially irritating substances. Elderberries are also noted for their medicinal purposes.

     The other day we gathered a bucket-full of berries, by snipping off the entire cluster of berries. Filling a 5 gallon bucket took less then fifteen minutes. The most labor intensive part of the process, however, is removing the small berries to be used for cooking. One full bucket of clusters converted to 17 cups of berries. I made jam with 8 cups of the berries, and dehydrated the other 9 cups which yielded a lb of dried berries.

Elderberry-Apple Jam
  • 8 cups of elderberries
  • 2 cups sliced apples
  • cup of lemon juice
  • 2 oz of pectin
  • 4 cups of sugar

     Combine elderberries, apples, lemon juice and pectin in large saucepan and bring to a boil. When the fruit mixture boils, stir in sugar until it dissolves. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until it reaches desired consistency. I like the trick that Gina showed me: cook until the jam maintains its integrity when it is dropped into ice cold water (if it forms little balls as it sinks to the bottom of the cup, it is ready, if it separates, it needs to cook more).

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67