What can you do with elderberry

In the middle of the city, at old barns in the village or in the partial shade of forest clearings: we encounter elderberry bushes almost everywhere.

We don't really notice the elderberry bushes until May, when they bloom in creamy white, incomparably and wonderfully fragrant umbels, from which you don't even want to take your nose out again, or in late summer when the purple-black elderberries show up.

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Make elderberry jelly yourself

Please only harvest completely purple-black colored umbels. Elderberries with a reddish shimmer are poisonous and should therefore be plucked out. By the way, elderberry belongs to the musk herb family and contains around ten species worldwide, three of which are native to Central Europe. The best known of these three species is the black elder, which in today's parlance is usually referred to as "elder", in northern Germany often also as "lilac bush" and in Bavaria and Austria as "elder".

If you don't have fresh elderberries on hand, you can easily buy 100% elderberry juice in 0.75l bottles from the Mehlhorns juice factory in West Saxony and have it delivered to your home.

Wash the elderberry umbels thoroughly, then carefully “harvest” the ripe, purple-black berries from the umbels. Boil in a suitable saucepan and strain the resulting juice through a sieve. Alternatively, you can use 100% elderberry juice in bottles, which is available in retail stores or online. Put 1 bottle (750 ml) elderberry juice in a saucepan, add 1 kg preserving sugar (1: 1), a packet of citric acid and stir well.

Off on the stove and bubbly for at least 4 - 5 minutes, stirring constantly, cook until it gels - make a gelling test. Now fill the elderberry jelly into boiled glasses, put the lid on and upside down. The homemade elderberry jelly is ready. Just surprise your friends with a glass as a souvenir.

How do you make a gel test? To do this, at the end of the cooking time, place a spoonful of the hot mixture on a cold plate. If this runs on the inclined plate, it has to boil down longer. If it stays firm, the hot preparation can be filled. The word "jelly" comes from Latin and means something like "to solidify".

And again: Resist the temptation to nibble on the raw fruits. Because the black berries contain a toxin (the glycoside sambunigrin) that only decomposes after cooking. Elderberries that are still red should even be pitted, because their kernels remain toxic even after heating.

Freeze elderberries

If you have picked too many elderberries, you can of course freeze them. Thoroughly clean the ripe fruits under running water, carefully wipe the berries with a fork and pat dry - sort out unripe and overripe fruits. You can also freeze whole cones - when frozen, the fruit is easier to separate from the cones and does not cause any stains. Now mix the berries with sugar in a bowl. The best packaging for your freezer neither lets air in, nor does moisture penetrate outside. Freezing cans or airtight bags are therefore recommended. Sugared elderberries can be kept for approx. 12 months, while unsweetened elderberries can be processed within 5 to 7 months.

Air dry elderberries

Simply leave the berries on the umbels after harvesting, so they are great for air drying. Simply hang the umbels on a line with clothespins. A warm, dry and airy place in the attic or in a barn is well suited. Under no circumstances should the elderberries be exposed to blazing sunlight or even get wet from rain while they are drying. You can not only conjure up delicious things from the elderberries, but also from the fresh, fragrant elderflower - for example, you can make elderflower syrup from it yourself.

Elderberry jelly - information on consumption

Only when the berries are cooked at more than 80 degrees does the toxic glycoside sambunigrin decompose and the elderberries become digestible.

Photos: Alfred Nesswetha / FOTOLIA

Make elderberry jam yourself

Since elderberry contains very little gelling power, a combination with unripe apples is recommended for jam - plums are also well suited as an addition.

If you cook elderberry without adding it to jam or jelly, add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to 500 g of berries and approx. 400 g of sugar. Pure elderberry jams and elderberry jellies simply turn out even better with preserving sugar.

Make elderberry soup yourself

You need the following ingredients for a delicious elderberry soup:

1 l good elderberry juice
100 g of sugar
12 plums, halved
3 pears, cut into wedges
Lemon peel
2 tbsp cornstarch
5 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Some water
Some egg whites
Some lemon juice

It is prepared as follows:

Bring the juice, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and lemon zest to the boil. Halve the plums, cut the pears into wedges and cook in the soup for 10 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with the water and bring to the boil in the soup. Now season with a little lemon juice and serve with a dollop of egg whites.

Make capers from green elderberries yourself

Danger: Green elderberries are poisonous when raw. They contain sambunigrin, which, when combined with water, releases toxic hydrogen cyanide. Nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting can all result from eating raw elderberries. However, this toxic substance is rendered harmless by heating.

Elderberry capers taste best when you harvest the elderberries before they get ripe and dark. There are two recipe variants that I would like to introduce to you:

Recipe variant 1: Soak the green, washed and dry elderberries in a mixture of 50 g salt and 1 L water overnight. The next day, drain in a colander and pour into small glasses. Now pour the whole thing with good, white wine vinegar, close the glasses and let it steep for 3 weeks in the cool cellar.

Recipe variant 2: Boil 50 g salt and 1 L water in a saucepan to a brine. Let cool, pour over the green elderberries and let stand overnight. The next day, separate the green elderberries from the brine using a sieve. Boil 250 ml of vinegar, 20 g of sugar and 10 whole peppercorns, add the green elderberries and cook for 1 minute. Then remove the green elderberries, drain them in a sieve, fill them into small glasses and then pour them over the elderberries. Close jars tightly immediately.

By the way: the blossoms of the elderberry bush can also be processed wonderfully from late May to early July. You can easily conjure up fried elderflower (Hollerküchle) from these.

Elderberry - cookbook / book tip 1

Elderberry Magic: A Cookbook & More

“A cookbook + more elderberries - whether as blossoms or fruit, always a real fountain of health and a must for your medicine cabinet. In addition to numerous recipes, you will find stories, tips, information and old things rediscovered in this book. "

Elderberry - myth and healing properties / book tip 2

Elderberry: Myth, Medicinal Effects and Recipes

“In this book the history and the myth, the botany, the collecting and processing as well as especially the healing properties of the elder are presented. In early summer, the elderberry tree beckons with its cream-colored flowers and bewitching scents. Its black berries ring in the third season, autumn. The elderberry can be processed into delicacies and remedies twice a year. May the book help to preserve and revive the knowledge about the elderberry. The extensive recipe section gives various suggestions for the use of this cultivated plant and its health-promoting and enjoyable gifts. "

Elderberry - vegetarian recipes with wild herbs and fruits / book tip 3

Elderberry - Vegetarian recipes with wild herbs and fruits

“Nature has an immense treasure trove of valuable plants that have medicinal properties and also taste delicious. In this book, Heide Hasskerl gives tips on identifying and collecting wild plants. It describes tried and tested recipes for making jam and jelly and explains the methods of tea fermentation and home winemaking. Over 30 plants are presented in portraits, from wild garlic to rose hips, dandelions and quendel to wild raspberries and lemon balm. For every portrait there are unusual and promising recipe ideas such as sage spätzle, baked elderflower, nettle pudding, wild strawberry soup or billy goat casserole. Anyone who is curious about what nature has to offer for our saucepan can be inspired by this book! "

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In addition to the beaten track in the middle of the city, on old barns in the village or in the partial shade of forest clearings: we encounter elderberry bushes almost everywhere. However, we do not really notice the bushes until the end of May at the earliest, when they appear in creamy white, incomparably fragrant ...