It’s Elderberry Season!

Daryl and I have been faithfully checking our elder patches for the past few weeks and he brought home a bag of our first elderberry bounty for the year this week.

This particular clump of elders is bordering a nursing home that has given us permission to pick their pears and elderberries.  He harvested them in the dark, bless his heart, and quickly filled a bag with one of our favorite wild foods in the world.

You can see they’re just slightly under-ripe (they should be deep purple black) so I decided to use them for juice, which can then be used for jelly, elderberry meringue pie, wine or other recipes, instead of for baking or medicinal remedies.  They have the absolute best flavor, texture and medicinal value when they are fully ripe — though they are still healthy and delicious now!  Luckily, this is a tiny fraction of the patches near us so we can happily use this for juice and use those to come for other purposes.  🙂 

Those three cups of berries made exactly enough juice for one pint (2 cups of juice) after simmering with water just to cover and then pressing through two layers of cheesecloth.  You can add a few slices of lemon, if you like.  Lemons and elderberries are made for each other. Since elderberries are pH indicators and lemons are acidic, this will turn the lemons hot pink by the time they’re done and give the juice a slight magenta color.  🙂  (If you like, you can use this bit of science to stir a spoonful of your finished elderberry juice into fresh lemonade to make all natural pink lemonade!)

I also put it through my food mill (this is the one I’ve had since 2009 and I love it) to get every bit of elderberry goodness, but that’s not a necessary step.

The juice can be refrigerated short term to use for jellies or recipes, or it can be canned for long term storage.  To can it, heat it to simmering and put it in sterilized jars, then process it in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (add more time for higher altitudes).  All of this is in my book too, of course, with a little more detail.

Daryl came back the next day with another bounty and my little helper wanted to join in “forking” the elderberries off their stems.  🙂

The rest of our local patches are nowhere near ripe yet.  Luckily, elders tend to flower and fruit over a pretty long season (about a month) so if you miss one patch you’re likely to still find lots more. 

If you’re new to elderberry foraging or want to branch out in what you do with your bounties, I have all the information you need to forage, ID, preserve and use elderberries in my elderberry book — including lots of ID pictures, information about the many health benefits of elderberries and how different types of processing affects those, and nearly 70 recipes for medicinal remedies, jams, jellies, baked goods, fritters, beverages and lots of elderflower and elderberry spirits. 

Some of the recipes are here on the blog, such as elderberry schnapps, elderberry cream cheese spread and elderflower soda and sparkling wine.

  elderberry cream cheese spread  How to make elderflower syrup (or elderflower sparkling wine)!  How to make elderflower soda

If you’d like to check it out, you can get the paperback version at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your local bookseller. You can also ask your local library to carry it!

Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More

Or you can buy the Kindle version on Amazon.  It’s also free to read if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

You can look inside and check out a preview here (click on look inside).

Recipes in the book include:

Health Remedies 

  • Elderflower Tea 
  • Elderflower Herbal Hay Fever Tea 
  • Elderflower Tincture 
  • Elderflower Herbal Hay Fever Tincture 
  • Elderberry Syrup (Flu Remedy)
  • Alternate (Alcohol-Based) Elderberry Syrup 
  • Elderberry Tincture
  • Elderberry Tincture Tonic
  • Elderberry Elixir 
  • Elderberry Oxymel 
  • Elderberry Herbal Tea 
  • Elderberry Lollipops
  • Elderberry Gummies
  • Quick Elderberry Apple Juice 
  • Super-Strength Elderberry Apple Juice 
  • Elderberry Apple Juice Popsicles

Jams & Jellies

  • Elderflower and Rhubarb Jam 
  • Apple-Elderflower Jelly
  • Elderberry Jelly
  • Elderberry & Crab Apple Jelly 
  • Easy Elderberry Jelly from Juice 
  • Easy Elderberry-Apple Jelly from Juice 
  • Easy Elderberry-Grape Jelly from Juice 
  • Elderberry Jam 
  • Elderberry Apricot Jam 

Elderflower & Elderberry Treats

  • Elderflower Fritters 
  • Elderflower Pancakes 
  • Elderflower Syrup
  • Socată/Suc de Soc (Elderflower Soda)
  • Elderberry Thumbprint Cookies
  • Elderberry Crumble Muffins 
  • Elderberry-Ginger Buckwheat Muffins
  • Elderberry-Apple Fruit Leather
  • Elderberry Cream Cheese
  • Elderberry Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Roasted Pears with Elderberry Glaze
  • Dark Chocolate Elderberry Truffles
  • Striped Elderberry Truffles 
  • Lemon Cheesecake with Elderberry Syrup
  • Elderberry Dumplings
  • Elderberry Fluff
  • Elderberry Cream Cheese Pie
  • Elderberry Meringue Pie
  • Old-Fashioned Elderberry Pie 
  • Foolproof Elderberry Pie
  • Elderberry Apple Pie
  • Sour Cream Elderberry Pie


  • Elderflower Wine
  • Elderflower Liqueur 
  • Sparkling Elderflower Lemonade 
  • Elderflower Hard Lemonade
  • Raspberry Elderflower Garnita
  • Elderflower Smash
  • Blueberry Elderflower Smash
  • Basil and Elderflower Smash 
  • Elderitas 
  • Elderflower Champagne 
  • Elderflower Liqueur Ice Cream Float 
  • Elderberry Liqueur
  • Elderberry Hard Lemonade
  • Elderberry Schnapps
  • Elderberry Cordial
  • Elderberry Bourbon
  • Elderberry Wine
  • Elderberry Mead

Happy elderberrying!

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Post Author: Alicia Bayer

2 thoughts on “It’s Elderberry Season!

    Patty Myer

    (September 16, 2017 - 9:37 pm)

    My husband just bought your elderberry book for me! Can you suggest a good place for me to buy dried elderberries? Thank you!

      Alicia Bayer

      (October 6, 2017 - 8:40 pm)

      How sweet of your husband! I used to buy my dried elderberries through Mountain Rose Herbs because they offered organic. You can also buy them from sellers on Etsy, eBay and Amazon. Many local natural food coops are also starting to carry them.

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