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Home » The Frugal Life – Growing and Cooking Elderberries

The Frugal Life – Growing and Cooking Elderberries

Make Elderberry Fritters – Recipe/ Growing Elderberries

If you have ever wanted to grow antelderberriesioxidant-rich ‘super-berries’ in your own yard, it is easier than you think!

Elderberries, aronia berries, currants, and raspberries are all tops in anti- oxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals.

It used to be that I would try to find an elderberry bush to gather these purple beauties to make jelly, but they grow in the wild where there is often poison ivy, or I would forget. If you know where a bush is on public land, you may want to plan to gather the deeply reddish-purple power-packed berries before the birds in order to freeze or dehydrate for muffins, make a tincture, or use in a smoothie with honey.

We have a dear elderly friend ~from our years on the farm~ named Mary who is 94. She has been picking and making elderberry syrup, jams, and using the berries for muffins and pancakes since she learned it from her mother as a girl. It was a common practice that was felt to give ‘vitality and vigor’.


The Israelis have researched use for a product named Sambucol (after the Latin name Sambuccus nigra). The purplish-black berries contain potassium and large amounts of vitamin C, and have been proven in quite a few recent studies to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms, as well as strengthen the immune system. They contain more phosphorus and potassium than any other temperate fruit crop.

This fall when the berries are ripe, I am going to try my hand at making an elderberry tincture using vodka. I will take photos and write about my experience to share with you.

They will need good watering the first year as they are shallow-rooted, but once established do fine without pampering. Mulch extra heavily – it conserves moisture and prevents weeds. They are hardy to zone 3.

They flower in middle of summer and ripen in late August.

Pick a place they can have room because they get quite large (plant 6-8′ apart) and are stunning when in bloom and bearing fruit.The berries are eaten by mockingbirds, gray catbirds, bluebirds, cedar waxwing, and northern orioles.

In years past, we have frozen bags of elderberries (and aronia, raspberries, and blueberries) to make into pies, muffins, or breads over the winter months. I love the idea of having all the goodness of summer harvested and stored until they are brought out to brighten up a dark winter’s night.

elderberry flowers One way to use the flowers (if you have an abundance) is to make fritters! A fritter is much like a pancake, but contains a primary ingredient like apples ( apple fritters), or zucchini (a regional favorite). When the children were small, we picked a large bunch of dandelion flowers and made heaps of delicious fritters out of them. You would have never known they contained dandelions :) We slathered them in butter and maple syrup! Oh, to impart these sweet delicacies to our children’s memory!

Elderflower Fritters
• 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (or experiment using spelt or rice flour
• 2 Eggs
• 1/2 cup milk
• Small pinch sea salt
• 16 Elderberry blossoms with stems (you can substitute – 2 cups thinly sliced apple wedges or diced apple )
• Coconut oil or olive oil for frying

With a whisk, mix the flour, eggs, salt, and milk into a pancake batter. Rinse the elderberry blossoms several times, then pat dry with paper towel. Briefly dip the blossoms into the dough, and then deep fry until golden brown. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup and serve.

To see more pictures of elderberries and their uses go here.

signatureJacqueline is the author of Deep Roots at Home, a site designed to grow your roots deeper in healthy living, gardening and God’s reflection in creativity.

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