Elderberries - fruit of extremes - so incredibly versatile

Elderberries - fruit of extremes - so incredibly versatile

When are elderberries harvested?

Elderberries ripen a little earlier in the garden than in the wild. The ripening period therefore extends from August to September. The fruits visually indicate their state of ripeness by being completely colored.

also read

  • When are elderberries ripe?
  • Are Elderberries Poisonous?
  • Freezing elderberries properly - practical tips

The berries of the black elder are purple-black, without any red nuance. The same applies to the fruit trimmings of the blue elder. The fruits of the red elder, known as deer elder, no longer show any greenish spots.

Which harvesting technique is recommended?

In earlier years elderberry juice was used to dye clothes, hair and food. It follows that protection of hands and clothing is essential during harvest. The following procedure has proven itself:

  • Cut off the entire umbel with the berries with scissors
  • sort out unripe fruit with two fingers
  • Carry the harvest indoors in a basket or plastic tub
  • Rinse the individual fruit umbels under running water
  • Wipe the elderberries over a kitchen sieve with a fork
  • Then pit the red elderberries

Don't let yourself be tempted to nibble on the raw berries while you pick them. In the worst case, you have to pay for it with severe stomach ache and severe nausea. The cause is the content of poisonous sambunigrin, which only decomposes when heated.

The most important nutritional values

Elderberries are rich in provitamin A and contain various B vitamins in good amounts. In addition, they score with these values ​​per 100 grams:

  • 48 calories
  • 0.5 grams of fat
  • 2.5 grams of protein
  • 7.4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4.0 grams of fiber

How to cook elderberries in a tasty way

The fruits of the elder are undoubtedly endowed with a bitter, bitter taste. Without a generous portion of sugar, therefore, hardly a recipe will succeed. Since the toxin content can only be dissolved by heating at the same time, it is the most popular preparation to make it with jam. This is how it works:

  • Mix 1.5 kilos of washed elderberries with the juice of one lemon
  • Stir in 500 grams of preserving sugar evenly
  • Bring to the boil in the pan while stirring and continue cooking for 4 minutes

The hot mixture is poured into sterilized screw-top jars, which must be turned upside down for at least 10 minutes after closing.

Juice berries for a vitamin kick

If you have a juicer at your disposal, the device transforms your fresh elderberries into refreshing, healthy vitamin juice in no time at all. To do this, fill the lower part of the pot with water and put 400 grams of sugar in the juice collector. Put 2 kilos of the cleaned berries in the sieve insert. Juicing takes 50 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the end of the procedure, take half a liter of juice and pour it over the remaining berries from above. This is how you create an even concentration. Last but not least, the hot elderberry juice comes in bottles, which are immediately closed tightly. The juice tastes particularly refreshing when diluted with mineral water.

Freeze properly for a long shelf life

With elderberries, loving care usually results in a lush harvest. If not all elderberries can be processed immediately, there is sometimes a certain time pressure. All elderberry species tend to shed their fruity clusters along with their leaves in autumn. Freezing serves as a viable solution to bridge the time to preparation. How to do it:

  • Freeze the washed berry umbels completely
  • alternatively, comb out the fruit with a fork
  • Select unripe and overripe berries
  • Put all usable elderberries in freezer bags

In the last step, seal the bags as airtight as possible and put everything in the freezer. Incidentally, the cold does not decompose the poisonous ingredient, so that the thawed elderberries have to be cooked before consumption.

Elderberries dry in the oven and dehydrator

The traditional art of drying is moving back to the fore, because nobody wants to treat their fruit harvest with chemical preservatives. The small berries of the elder are ideal candidates for natural preservation through targeted removal of water.

In the oven, the plan succeeds by spreading the washed fruits on a baking sheet. With a top and bottom heat of 50 degrees Celsius, the drying process takes a little longer than convection. If you don't want to block the oven for long, you can use a special dehydrator. This is equipped with a heater, a fan and several sieves. The elderberries are dried at 60-70 degrees Celsius.


Not only are the berries suitable for consumption, but also elderflower. Freshly picked and dipped in pancake batter, bake the flowers in pork fat. The regional specialty is served under the name 'Hollerküchle'.