We’ll be picking wild elderberries soon, and after we get them off the stems we’ll need to cook with them or preserve them. This article is about preserving them for later.
Why preserve them? According to Wildman Steve Brill:
“Avoid unripe, green berries–they’ll get you sick. Even raw ripe elderberries make some people nauseous. Cooking or drying dispels the offending substance, and greatly improves the flavor. Baking this fruit in muffins, cakes and breads imbues them with a piquant crunchiness. They become the central ingredient whenever you use them in baked goods. Elderberries aren’t sweet and contain no thickeners. Rely on other ingredients for these elements, especially if you’re making the European favorite, elderberry jam.”
With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to make your elderberries last.
- Oven drying
- Air drying (this is for small batches, but works the same for larger amounts)
- Air drying the clusters
- Elderberry-Honey Syrup
And, of course…
In addition, Slow Food Ireland has an amazing PDF file from 2011 that calls itself “THE JUST-ABOUT COMPLETE, BEGINNERS GUIDE ON WHERE TO FIND IT, WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, HOW TO PICK IT, HOW TO PREPARE IT, AND HOW TO PRESERVE IT”
What more could you ask for?
Note: This is part of a series that I wrote in 2010 as the urban foraging examiner for a defunct website. Since then, Alicia has written her elderberry foraging book (affiliate link) and has much more comprehensive information there. She’s published quite a lot of information about foraging and using elderberries here on our blog and on her author website, too.