Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ripe Elderberries

The elderberries are ripe for the picking.  As the berries grow darker and fatter, the clusters droop closer to the ground.

These dark purple, almost black, elderberries are really interesting.  Up until a couple of months ago, I didn't know much about them.  From what I've read, all parts of the plant are to a certain extent toxic, even the seeds.  As a result, eating too many of the berries raw can give you an upset stomach.  I don't think there is much risk of that for me because they taste awful raw as far as I'm concerned. 

Many people believe that elderberries hold certain health benefits.  One of our neighbors juices them and claims that they help to relieve constipation.  Another neighbor, who dries and then grinds them into a powder, believes that they work to boost one's immune system.  I'm more interested in them for a more traditional purpose - winemaking.  Apparently, people have been making elderberry wine for centuries.  I can see why as there is a wildness about them that becomes tamed during the winemaking process. 

The clusters are fairly easy to strip - almost like stripping currants.  I have two one gallon recipes - one calling for 3 lbs of ripe berries and another calling for 10 lbs.  I'm assuming the latter will result in a richer more full-bodied wine.  So far, we've picked around 5 lbs and when all is said and done, we'll have enough to make wine and a batch or two of jam.


  1. I'm sorry, I can't resist recalling the quote, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries"! It's from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. Do you remember? The guard atop the castle, who catapulted cows over the wall said it.

    It sounds like you're settling in quite well with your new neighbors there. Glad to hear it! Enjoy your new wine!

  2. How lucky you are to have access to fresh berries! We've made plum wine a few times. (It's still aging.)

  3. Elderberry wine sounds interesting. I always thought elderberries were used as flowers to flavor things. Not that I've made anything with an elderberry or their flowers, but I thought they were more like dandelions that way.

  4. Looking forward to hearing how it turns out.
    We have a bunch of Elderberries around here, but I haven't tried doing anything with them. I have read the same as you, though. :o)

    Have a great week!

    1. RiceGuy; Elderberry wine is available at our local store. Look for "Three Lakes Wines". They produce a variety of fruit based wines.

  5. Such beautiful looking berries, great photos! :-)

  6. I am going to share this with my husband as he wants to try winemaking.

  7. Never tried elderberry wine before, let me know how it turns out. I had elderberry pie the other day, it was really tasty.

  8. Hi Thomas,

    My name is Tina Jin, the community manager for a new blogger community called Garden Gab ( This is a feed powered by Atomic Reach that features bloggers writing about gardening worldwide. This community will focus on tips, advice and personal stories on the subject. I want this Garden Gab community to be a place where expert advice and tips are consolidated in one place for beginner (like myself) and experienced gardeners.

    If you decide to join, Garden Gab will publish the title of your blog posts and the first few sentences of each post. If readers want to read the full story, they’ll be pushed to your blog and give you traffic. These readers will be people who share the same passion and interests as you, which is the sole purpose of the community.

    If you’re interested in joining our community, please e-mail me back at tinajin @ with “Gardening” in the subject line. If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.

    Community Manager

    P.S. Beautiful elderberries!

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