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Eating from your yard tip – Elderberries, by Jill Kuhel

Standing next to an elderberry bush wearing a silk scarf I dyed with elderberries.

Tuesday eating from your yard tip~ Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) are not a berry you pick and pop in your mouth. While birds can eat elderberry off the bush, it is best for us humans to remove the seed and heat it up a bit before eating them. I pick them when the cluster droops. Harvesting elderberries is the the easy part. Getting the little berries off the bitter stem is the tricky part. A fork works pretty well or I have heard people also use a wide tooth comb to comb through the elderberry cluster and pop off the berries. Now what do you do with these beautiful purple berries? Elderberry and lavender jelly is my most favorite. I make a juice using Kay Young’s recipe of 4 cups elderberry with 1 cup water covered and simmered for 15 minutes then cool and squeeze through a cheese cloth. Rose Bernstein sent me a photo of the delicious purple passion pie she also made from Kay Young’s book Wild Seasons. How about elderberry syrup made with rose hips and honey on your pancakes or adult beverage? Last year Sarah Freudenburg made the most delicious wine from elderberry, apricots and vanilla bean. My herb mentor, Twila Fairbanks, soaked elderberry in vodka for four weeks then daily had a tablespoon to ward off winter colds. If you feel overwhelmed with too much to do to make all these glorious creations take a tip from my buddy Bob Henrickson and freeze the berries so you can pull them out in the winter when there is more time. I also dye silk scarves with the elderberries. With so much to do with elderberries it is tempting to pick them all, but remember birds don’t have grocery stores so leave some for them to enjoy! How do you eat elderberries?

Jill Kuhel

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