You’ve probably heard of the numerous benefits of elderberries. They can help you strengthen your immune system, are great antioxidants, and can boost your energy levels. But there’s a catch. If taken incorrectly, elderberries can be very harmful to your body.
So, how do you know the difference between when elderberry consumption is highly beneficial and when it can be dangerous? Read below to see how to eat elderberry safely.
Elderberry & Elderflower
Let’s start with the basics. There are two types of elderberries - black and blue.
American Black Elder is native to eastern North America. It ranges in color from dark purple to black and grows in clusters on reddish stems. Blue elder, which is another subspecies of black elder, is native to western North America. Blue elderberries are a deep blue color and are coated in a white bloom of yeast when they’re ripe.
Elderflowers, the flowers of an elderberry, bloom on the shrubs before the berries form and make their first appearance in early springtime. They are a creamy white color and grow in clusters. They are often dried and used in tea.
Now that you understand the differences between the berry and the flower of the elder plant, let’s see how they can benefit our bodies.
Are elderberries edible?
We’ve answered a series of commonly asked questions about elderberries below. Learn more about how safe elderberries are, their benefits, how to harvest and cook them, their side effects, and more.
Can you eat raw elderberries?
Raw elderberries are poisonous and can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other symptoms. However, cooked ripe elderberries are perfectly edible and flavorful.
Once cooked, the elderberries can be used to make all kinds of delicious recipes like jams, chutneys, pies, and even wine. They can be used for syrups, tea infusions, or even mixed into yummy alcoholic cocktails like Elderberry Gin & Tonic.
What is the best way to take elderberries?
Anything commercially prepared with elderberries is safe as they use cooked berries. Elderberries are used in many supplements because they can be very beneficial for us by boosting our immune system and protecting us against common colds and flus. You can take elderberry supplements in the form of syrups, capsules, or gummies.
What part of the elderberry is poisonous?
The seeds, leaves, and bark of the elder tree is poisonous. Just as with the raw berries, they contain a toxic substance that can wreak havoc on your body. Make sure not to crush the leaves or the stems when making juice.
How do you prepare elderberries?
Elderberries are usually consumed in liquid form. To get a delicious and nutritious syrup, follow these 6 simple steps:
1. Remove the elderberries from their stems by hand.
2. Put the berries in a saucepan and add water to prevent scorching.
3. Bring the water to a boil so that the fruit is softened and then let everything cool down.
4. Use a food mill to remove the seeds. You can also strain the juice through a jelly bag.
5. Pour the juice back into the pot, add sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes until the syrup has thickened. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
6. Cool completely. Pour into a bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator.
Does elderberry have any side effects?
As previously mentioned, elderberries must be cooked before consuming. Consumed moderately, ripe or cooked elderberry fruit is considered safe. However, it is considered unsafe to consume elder leaves, stems, unripe, and uncooked elderberries. Moreover, the overconsumption of elderberries may cause diarrhea, stomach ache, and abdominal cramping due to their laxative effects.
Can you drink raw elderberry juice?
Drinking juice made from freshly picked berries can cause vomiting because the elderberry plant contains a toxin called cyanogenic glycosides. Luckily, this can be removed by cooking. When preparing the elderberry plant, you also need to get rid of the leaves, branches, and bark of the plant.
Do you need to cook dried elderberries?
Yes, you do. Dried elderberries are considered uncooked, raw elderberries. So, beware of the dried fruits also! The nasty effects of eating uncooked elderberries are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Is it OK to drink elderberry tea everyday?
Yes, you can safely enjoy elderberry tea daily. Rich in nutrients and caffeine-free, elderberry tea can help boost your immune system all year round.
Does elderberry syrup really work?
By using naturally harvested berries in the wild, our Elderberry Syrup has no added sugars, no GMO ingredients, and is 100% vegan and organic. To optimize results, it is recommended that adults take 1 ml (30 drops) daily to feel the amazing benefits of our elderberry syrup. Our formula was developed with the help of a medical expert so you get the exact intake you need. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, elderberry syrup acts as an instant immunity booster and will help strengthen your immunity when you need it most.
Is elderberry safe for kids?
Elderberry is likely safe for children 12 years of age or older. The recommended dosage is a 5 ml spoon orally twice a day for 3-10 days. Children under the age of one should not take this syrup.
Can it really do it all? Yes, they can. Elderberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and a great source of phenolic acid and flavonols. This means that, when prepared accordingly, elderberries work to strengthen your body’s natural defense mechanism and overall well-being. They are often used in liquid form (as syrup) to fight the common cold. Other benefits include preventing constipation, improving bowel function, reducing blood pressure, protecting against cardiovascular diseases, and lowering blood cholesterol.
How to harvest
So you’ve decided to harvest your own berries. No better food than the ones you grow yourself, right? We’re here to guide you through the process.
Where should I plant elderberries?
To make sure they grow easily, plant the elderberries in the right environment and best conditions. Plant elderberries where they can get sunlight full time to get the most flowers and berries. Plant elderberries in the ground at the same depth as their roots. Elderberries grow very well in consistently moist, fertile soils. They are shallow-rooted, so keep them well watered through the first growing season. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy.
What can I plant with elderberries?
Some good options for elderberry companion planting include white pine trees, quaking aspen, winterberry, currants, or gooseberries.
How fast does elderberry grow?
American elderberries have a moderate growth rate, growing on plants the first year you plant them. However, they can take two to three years to fully mature and produce fruits. They can grow up to 12 feet tall within the first three years and can live up to 60 years.
How to dry flowers
Dried elderflowers are used to make tea and the process of drying and preserving them couldn’t be easier.
Spread the elderflowers on a large tray, keeping them at a distance from each other and store them in a dry and dust-free environment. Turn them over every few days. Depending on the humidity level in the air, it can take around 2 weeks for them to dry completely.
Recipes and uses
Have you decided to give cooking with elderberries a try? Elderberries have lots of culinary uses. You can make delicious crumbles, jams, syrups, sauces, and pies to enjoy alone or serve at family gatherings. For more information on how to prepare these recipes, check out this article.
And just to be extra safe, don’t mix raw elderberries with other types of berries in the fridge so that you don’t eat them by mistake. If you have uncooked elderberries, keep them in a separate container in the fridge.
Now you’re all set to enjoy these small berries, whether you’re thinking of taking a healthy supplement like Elderberry Syrup or you just want to try your hand at grandma’s elderberry jam recipe. You have all the knowledge you need to reap the benefits of this powerful antioxidant!