Today, we will answer the question, "What do elderberries taste like?" We will also share some of the most popular elderberry uses and our top recommendations for where to buy elderberries and elderberry syrup, just in case you missed the short foraging window.
Black Elderberries (Sambucus nigra & similar species) have a long tradition of being used as an anti-oxidant-rich food source with a host of scientifically supported medicinal properties.
What do Elderberries Taste Like?
Black elderberries taste similar to blackberries and black currents but have a more "earthy" flavour. The many flavonoids and antioxidants in black elderberries give them a unique flavour that can be enjoyed in culinary treats and elderberry medicine extracts.
Here are a few other essential things to know when exploring what elderberries taste like:
- You should NOT eat elderberries raw or unripe, as they are considered toxic. Unripe berries should be discarded, and ripe berries must be cooked first. This is why, as foragers, we always follow "The Five Rights of Foraging."
- Black elderberry is a native shrub that grows in many parts of North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Foragers collect the flowers in mid-summer and the berries in late summer. See our full article on wild foraging elderberries.
- Black elderberries have many uses when cooked, such as elderberry syrup, jam, wine, pie, as an immune supportive, medicinal tonic, and more. See the section below on elderberry uses and elderberry medicine.
- The flowers of black elderberry can also be used in food and medicine making, but the bark and leaves are considered toxic.
- Don't be fooled by the smell of cooked elderberries; it can be deceiving. When prepared properly, they taste MUCH better than they smell. You may remember the old Monty Python quote, "And your mother smells of elderberries." This is likely a reference to the unpleasant smell when someone is making otherwise delicious elderberry syrup or jam.
- There is also a species of red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). These are NOT edible and could upset your stomach, even when cooked.
Elderberry Uses & Elderberry Medicine
Black elderberries have many uses as a delicious antioxidant-rich food and elderberry medicine.
A few of the more common black elderberry uses include:
1) Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry Syrup may be the most popular way to use elderberries. For many people, elderberry syrup is a staple and daily tonic used to help fend off colds and flu in the fall and winter.
Elderberry syrup is often taken straight or mixed in a cup of sparkling water or tea.
There is a ton of scientific evidence supporting elderberry medicine as an anti-viral and immune-supporting herb.
If you want elderberry syrup, this is one of the many sustainably foraged products we sell here at Wild Muskoka Botanicals.
2) Elderberry Drinks
Elderberries can be made into a host of delicious and nourishing drinks.
A few examples include:
- Elderflower Cordial
- Elderberry Cordial
- Elderberry Cocktail & Mocktails
- Elderberry Wine
- Elderberry and Elderflower Tea
- And, more...
The Grow Forage Cook Ferment website has a fantastic article full of elderberry food and drink recipes.
You can also use our Wild Muskoka Elderberry Syrup to sweeten tea, in sparkling water, cocktails, or in one of our favourite warm fall and winter drinks:
A Spiced Blood Orange & Ginger Elderberry Tea
3) Elderberries as Food
Black elderberries also have a long tradition of being used as a food. This is less common in North America but quite popular in many European countries.
Elderberries as food are used similarly to many other popular berries such as blueberries, currents and blackberries, except they are always cooked first.
Again, the website Grow Forage Cook Ferment, which we referenced under drinks above, also has a ton of great food recipes.
Here are a few ideas for what you can make with elderberries:
- Elderberry jam
- Elderberry pie
- Elderberry crisps or crumbles
- Elderberry syrup gummies
- Elderberry pancakes
Or, one of our favorite elderberry syrup recipes is:
Overnight Oats Meal Prep using Elderberry Syrup
4) Elderberry Medicine
Elderberries also have a long tradition of being used as a medicine and immune-supportive tonic.
A few of the medicinal benefits of elderberries include:
- Reducing the length and severity of colds and flu's.
We are currently working on a more in-depth article on the benefits of elderberry syrup; in the meantime, you can reference a few of these scientific studies and resources:
- The Health Benefits of Elderberries from Medical News Today
- A list of clinical studies on Researchgate.net
- Health Canada database on Sambucus (Elder)
Where to Buy Elderberries & Elderberry Syrup
Canadian-Made Elderberry Syrup
For this one, we may be a little biased as we will be recommending our very own
Here are a few things that make ours a great choice, it's:
- Made with a mixture of sustainably wild foraged and organic berries.
- Made with immune-supporting herbs such as ginger, astragalus & echinacea
- Produced here in Ontario, so you are supporting local small businesses.
- Uses natural and clean ingredients. We use local honey as the main preservative.
- Delicious and NOT thick like cough syrup (many brands are).
- If you compare the price per 100ml, we are one of the best-priced elderberry syrups in Canada.
Where to Buy Elderberry Plants & Cuttings
We order our cuttings from Elderberry Grove in BC. They are wonderful people who provide excellent customer service, support and quality clippings. If you live in BC, they also make a lovely Elderberry Syrup.
In Ontario, Canada, Richter's Herbs also sells elderberry plants & seeds.
Where to Buy Raw & Dried Elderberries
Learn more about Elderberries
If you enjoyed this article you may also find value in these posts: