The shiny black berry elderberry has a lot to offer both culinarily and healthwise. Whether for jelly, compote, cake or as juice, cooking with elderberries is definitely worth a try!
What You Should Know About Elderberries
In the past, elderberries were planted on every farm. It was regarded as the tree of life and of the clans, it was said to have magical, protective powers for humans and animals. Whether one believes in such legends or not, one thing is certain: Elder, which belongs to the goosefoot family, can certainly help to feed two- and four-legged friends and keep them healthy. Elderberries are said to have been used as food and remedies by Neolithic man. Its tart, aromatic fruits have been particularly popular since time immemorial, as a delicious juice can be made from elderberries, which are often called lilac berries.
The elder bush has been native to Central Europe for many centuries.
The period for elderberries begins in September and lasts about a month.
For most people, elderberries with their very tart, bitter taste need getting used to. To make them edible, they require a large portion of sugar.
How Healthy Are Elderberries?
Even Hippocrates is said to have used elderberries as a remedy, and Hildegard von Bingen also had them in her medicine chest. The black-blue fruits, also called lilac berries depending on the region, have proven to be an effective household remedy against colds and flu, because the juice from elderberries has a sudorific and antipyretic effect.
Uncooked fresh elderberry juice is also said to be effective against neuralgia, i.e. painful nerve inflammations, shingles and herpes. Naturopaths recommend a daily medical dose of about 1 tablespoon (20 millilitres) of raw elderberry juice to achieve the pain-relieving and antineuralgic effect. It should not be more than this, because raw elderberries have a toxic effect in larger quantities.
As with all berries, the same applies to elderberries: They contain plenty of provitamin A. In addition, several B vitamins are found in considerable quantities in the fruit.
If you have heart and circulation problems, it is better to ask your doctor before sweating with hot elderberry juice. It is also important, even for healthy people, that raw elderberries not only taste pretty awful, they are also inedible and can lead to nausea and vomiting.
|Elderberry Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
You cannot buy elderberries everywhere, but you can also collect them yourself. It should be noted, however, that elderberries should only be collected off of busy roads because of the exhaust fumes and other pollutants.
Fresh elderberries are sensitive and should be stored in the refrigerator only as long as necessary.
The preparation of elderberries is quite uncomplicated: Simply wash them, drain them well and then pull the berries from the umbel-shaped stems. You can do this with a fork or with your fingers. To prevent the dark juice from discoloring your hands, it is best to wear disposable gloves for this work.
What To Make With Elderberries
In Switzerland, people love the so-called Swiss mush, in which elderberries are baked in dough and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Meanwhile, North Germans swear by the lilac berry soup with snow dumplings and like it not only as dessert but also as a small sweet main course.
The most popular way to enjoy elderberries, however, is the juice. You can buy it, of course, but you can also make it yourself with a juicer and use it as the basis for an aromatic elderberry jelly, for example.
Pro tip: The somewhat tart elderberry juice also harmonises excellently with other juices. For example, the combination with blackberry, apple, or pear juice tastes very good.