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Quote of the Day: Elderberries

September 7th, 2014

“Once up on a time not so long ago, elderberries were held in extremely high esteem by humans. Elderberry trees feds us. They got us drunk, provided medicine, and protected us from witches. Everybody know elderberry trees. They offered everything from fruit to flutes and cosmetics to weapons.”

Connie Green and Sarah Scott The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

I only have one small elderberry plant here in my garden in Maine so far, though it’s sending up suckers that will be transplanted when it’s finished producing berries. There aren’t enough berries for me to make anything this year, they will be cut and fed to the chickens. Elderberries are beautiful plants and provide such nutrition.
Elderflower fritters 2
The lacy white flowers can be fried up as fritters, made into wine or syrup for sodas and the berries can be used in all sorts of different ways. When I have elderberry syrup I use it in my tea all winter long, it’s said to boost the immune system. My dad swears by its health promoting ability and doesn’t hardly go a day without consuming elderberries in some form (jelly is his favorite medium). Even if you don’t want to consume the berries or the flowers, they are a wonderful way to provide forage for pollinators and birds of all varieties and are worthwhile to include in the garden for that reason.

Do you have any plants you grow for their medicinal properties?

4 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Elderberries”
  1. Marina on September 7, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Due to my shoulder injury, I missed the elderberry cordial season, made from the flowers. The birds get all the berries, so I thought the cordial would be the way to go for me. I will leave plenty of flowers for the birds though. I don’t mind sharing with them.
    A local shop sells the cordial from England, where it is still very easy to find and a favorite cool drink of summer: a little syrup in a cool long glass of water. Our friend Audrey introduced our daughter to it when she was a little tike, and it is still a favorite of hers to this day.

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  2. Ann on September 7, 2014 at 7:39 am

    We grow elderberries and use both the flowers and the berries. The flowers all go toward making wine. We enjoy the light summery wine made from the blossoms much better than the dark sticky wine made from the berries. We use the berries to make juice which this year has all gone to flavoring water kefir that we drink every day.

    But don’t bother throwing the berries to the chickens. Mine don’t think much of them. The wild birds will eat them like crazy and redistribute the seeds for you.

    I don’t really recommend most people bother planting elderberries. Cause if you live anywhere in the country with a Japanese Beetle problem, elderberry will drawn them into your property. Just find a great wild patch and keep your eye on it and harvest what you want from there.

    Other medicinal things I grow? Well mostly just weeds but I do leave them be out in the yard. Plantains and dandelions mostly. I do have a comfrey patch which I have used on cuts but not internally. I feed most of these same things to my rabbits so they are very dual purpose.

    Reply to Ann's comment

    • Sara on September 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

      That’s so interesting, I didn’t know they were (ANOTHER) plant that japanese beetles like. I already attract them since we have grapes, roses, apples, beans….sigh. We don’t have an elderberry, but they grow wild all over, even in our somewhat urban area, so there is no lack for us or the birds!

      We make elderberry champagne from the flowers, and steep berries in vodka for a cold remedy (and for a tasty cocktail).

      Reply to Sara's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on September 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Susy, no medicinal plants in the garden …. yet. I did plant a bed of strawberries yesterday but I don’t think that qualifies as medicinal. :-). Thirty plants from a neighbor’s patch. Elderberries do grow wild along the roadsides here in Nebraska. I did try to make jelly once but it ended up being pancake syrup. Not a bad plan “B”. I always have intentions in the spring when I see the blossoms to make jelly but when the time comes to harvest the elderberries, I’m usually deep into fall projects. I really need to be more food oriented at summer’s end and fall. One of the things I like about reading your blog is that there’s always something new and fresh happening on your homestead.

    Have a great elderberry day.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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