Elderberry fruiting season runs from July to October. Elderberries are not grown commercially, so you will have to forage for the ingredients needed in these recipes.
Elderberries grow on shrubs or small trees, which are part of the Sambucus genus, which have a pale, corky bark, and are formed of distinctive blue-black bunches of berries on red stalks.
Remember that raw elderberries are poisonous, so take them home and cook one of these elderberry recipes rather than eating them while out in the wild!1
Basic elderberry syrup recipe
Many recipes (cocktails especially) call for an elderberry syrup – or elderberry cordial - as an ingredient.
So, here is a quick way to make a homemade elderberry syrup of your own:
- Wash the elderberry bunches under the tap, and use a fork to separate the berries from the stems by pushing the fork downwards, collecting the berries in a bowl.
- Cover the elderberries in water and boil. Allow to simmer for twenty minutes.
- Pour the mixture through a muslin cloth to drain it.
- Tip the finer liquid into a measuring jug and measure how much you have. Add sugar at a ratio of 1:1 (if you have 200g of juice, you should have 200g of sugar.)
- Simmer again for ten minutes before cooling and bottling.
This has to be the easiest elderberry tea recipe in the world!
Simply add a spoonful of your elderberry syrup to hot water and stir. You should not need to add sugar as it will already be sweet.
You can infuse an entire teapot further by including a cinnamon stick in your teapot.
Elderberry jam recipe
This elderberry jelly recipe will go down a storm with the kids:
- Begin by putting a heatproof plate (“microwave safe”) into the freezer several hours before you begin your elderberry jam recipe.
- Wash the elderberry bunches and remove the berries from the stems. You will need to weigh out 1kg of elderberries which have been removed from the stalks.
- Place them in a pan with about two cups of water, and add the peel from a lemon and a cinnamon stick. Boil it all together for around ten minutes.
- Allow to cool, and use a muslin cloth to strain the berries. In a clean pan, add 500g of caster sugar, and bring to the boil.
- Let the jam boil for fifteen minutes, while stirring.
- Remove the jam and do a “wrinkle test”. Allow the jam to cool for a minute, then spoon a little of the jam onto the cold plate (remove it from the freezer first!) Gently push the blob of jam with a finger. If it wrinkles, then it has set. If it is still liquid, return the jam to the heat and boil for a few more minutes, then test again.
- Once set, pour into jars and label. Store in the fridge.
Elderberry pie recipe
This elderberry pie recipe will delight the whole family.
- Preheat your over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (or 190 degrees Celsius.)
- Gently fold together 400g of elderberries, 235g of sour cream, 200g of white sugar, 70g of all purpose flour and a teaspoon of almond extract.
- Place a pre-made pie crust onto a pie plate, and pour over the elderberry mixture.
- Place the second pie crust on top, and use a fork to press the edges together. Poke some ventilation holes in the top of the crust, too.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Cool and serve with cream for a delicious dessert.
Elderberry vinegar recipe
Tired of balsamic vinegar on all your salads? Or fancy something a bit different?
This elderberry vinegar alternative will provide a surprising tang that will make that lettuce go down a tad easier.
- After washing them and removing the stalks, put 400g of ripe elderberries into a bowl. Using the end of a rolling pin, mash the berries lightly, until they are a mush.
- Pour over 500ml of red wine vinegar and cover with a muslin cloth. Leave this for five days, covered.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, and pour the liquid into a saucepan.
- Gradually add 700g of sugar, warming the pan and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Do not let the sugar burn or caramelise.
- Boil, and then simmer for ten minutes.
- Pour into sterilised bottles. Use plastic or cork toppers, otherwise they will react with the vinegar. Keep hold of any old chilli sauce or malt vinegar bottles and reuse these, they will work very well.
For more information on elderberries, check out our article on the health benefits of elderberries.
Many people choose to make their own jams and sweets as part of a lower sugar lifestyle, so that even when consuming these sweeter foods, they have a handle on the quantity of sugar consumed.
Check out some of our 8 natural sugar substitutes for other ways to control your sugar intake.
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.