Why is it that when the elderberry is flowering, everybody seems to be elbow deep in making elderflower cordial, but later, when the berries are ripe, they get much less attention?
It happens here, too. Perhaps it is the overwhelming abundance of the fall harvest that makes us blind to the shiny, almost black beady berries.
But it’s a shame to pass on food that is plentiful, for free and extremely healthy! The berries contain lots of vitamin C and A, B6, iron and potassium. Both the flowers and berries have long been used to cure colds and flues and recent research shows that they can successfully treat influenza A and B (which no standard medication has been able to). Besides that they can be used to treat headaches, rheumatism and neuralgic pain.
My father likes to recount a story of his colleague who suffered chronic back pain. He went to see his doctor who told him that though he could not do so officially, he’d advice him to eat 1 teaspoon elderberryjam every day. My father’s colleague did it and it helped.
This year I managed to remember the berries just in time. I got the kids to help me harvest some elderberries from shrubs close to our allotment and we made elderberry compote. Barely sweet, so that the sugar does not mask the specific taste of the elderberries. Mixed with yoghurt, it was a simple dessert that managed to be both pretty, healthy and classy.
Warning: the fruits should not be eaten raw as they can be purgative. Also, do not consume unripe berries!
For a recipe for elderberry jam look here.
One year ago: Japanese quince jelly (October is the month of foraging around here!)
Elderberry compote with Greek yogurt
300 g (11 ounces) elderberries
4 tbsp raw cane sugar or honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
500 ml (1 pint) Greek yogurt
Wash the elderberries and separate the berries from the stalks, discarding any unripe berries.
Put the berries in a medium saucepan together with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Bring to boil and gently simmer, until the berries release their juice, for about 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Divide the compote between 4 glasses, keeping about 4 tablespoons of the juice. Put the yogurt on top of the compote and then top the yogurt with the remaining juice. Serve chilled.