Everyone knows how great elderberries are for desserts, wines and medicine, but they’re also pretty fabulous for arts and crafts. Here’s a great way to use your spent elderberries after you use them for cooking.
When you use elderberries for things like juice and jellies, you’ll typically cover them with water and simmer them. After you strain them out, you can actually use those same berries again to make a weaker juice. I usually do, and then I use the spent elderberries one more time for fun stuff. 🙂
What kind of fun stuff?
Elderberry Spin Art
Elderberry blow art
You can also use it as paint, ink, dye and more.
Keep in mind that elderberries don’t hold that beautiful color forever, so expect some changes over time. But they’re so much fun to use for arts and crafts!
Here’s how to make elderberry spin art or blow art.
To do elderberry spin art…
Get your spent elderberry juice and adjust the colors as you like (see below for instructions). Cut some card stock or watercolor paper into small squares and put them in a salad spinner. Have the kids use an eye dropper to drop a few drops of the elderberry juice on the card stock and then spin!
Be forewarned that elderberries stain, so do this outside or protect your work surface! Have the kids wear clothes that will be improved by elderberry dye. 😉
To do elderberry blow art…
Get your spent elderberry juice and adjust the colors as you like (see below for instructions). Also get some white paper (watercolor paper or construction paper work best but any paper will do) and a pipette or eye dropper for each child, plus a straw for each child.
Drop a few drops of the elderberry juice on the paper and then have them blow on it from various directions.
Be sure the kids only use a few drops at a time for best results. If you get too much of a puddle, you can blot it with a paper towel.
To make elderberry ink from spent berries
By the third go-round, the berries themselves don’t really offer much taste or nutrition. They still have lots of that gorgeous color though.
To use them for ink or paint, just top them with a little water one last time, simmer a bit, and strain the liquid.
If you want to make multiple colors, divide it into three dishes. Elderberries are pH indicators, like red cabbage. That means that the juice changes color if you add an acid or base.
Add lemon juice to make a vibrant hot pink (or another acid like vinegar)
Add baking soda to make blue (or another base like dish soap).
Check out my book, Elderberries: The Beginner’s Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More.
You can learn more about it here.
We also have lots of elderberry recipes and info on our family blog, A Magical Life.