Suppression

Elderberries

Category: Food

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

 

Elderberries are yet another plant that could be classified as both a food and a medicine, however, we decided they tasted so nice - not at all like medicine -   that it seemed more sensible to place them in the food category.

Sambucus (elder or elderberry) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae.  It contains between 5 and 30 species of deciduous shrubs, small trees and herbaceous perennial plants.  The genus occurs in temperate to subtropical regions of the world. More widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, its Southern Hemisphere occurrence is restricted to parts of Australasia and South America. Many species are widely cultivated for their ornamental leaves, flowers and fruit

The flowers of Sambucus nigra can be used to produce elderflower wine, ‘champagne’ [which is actually non alcoholic and just a very nice fizzy drink with lemons and sugar] and ice cream.  St. Germain, a French liqueur, is made from elderflowers. Hallands Fläder, a Swedish akvavit, is flavoured with elderflowers and the Italian liqueur Sambuca is flavoured with oil obtained from the elderflower.

However, this section is about the berries because they have widespread healing properties.

Background

Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.   Some preliminary studies demonstrate that elderberry may have a measurable effect in treating the flu, alleviating allergies, and boosting overall respiratory health.  I have provided some observations from Pubmed supporting this. 

Nutritionally they are a good source of vitamin C and a number of minerals.  The following table comes from the USDA Nutrients database.

Elderberries

Nutritional value per 100 g

Energy

305 kJ (73 kcal)

Carbohydrates

18.4 g

- Dietary fiber

7 g

Fat

0.5 g

Protein

0.66 g

Water

79.80 g

Vitamin A equiv.

30 μg

Thiamine (vit. B1)

0.07 mg

Riboflavin (vit. B2)

0.06 mg

Niacin (vit. B3)

0.5 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.14 mg

Vitamin B6

0.23 mg

Folate (vit. B9)

6 μg

Vitamin C

36 mg

Calcium

38 mg

Iron

1.6 mg

Magnesium

5 mg

Phosphorus

39 mg

Potassium

280 mg

Zinc

0.11 mg

Method

Elderberries must always be cooked before they are used.  If you make jam or a sauce to pour over ice-cream or used with plain yoghurt, they should be cooked and sieved.

The ripe, cooked berries (pulp and skin) of most species of Sambucus are edible.   However, most uncooked berries and other parts of plants from this genus are poisonous.  The seeds of Sambucus plants contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside (a glycoside which gives rise to cyanide as the metabolism processes it). Ingesting a sufficient quantity of cyanide-inducing glycosides can cause a toxic build up of cyanide in the body.

Farmhouse fare - recipes from country housewives submitted to Farmer's Weekly
Take half a gallon of cooked and sieved elderberry juice and put it in a brass pan over a clear but slow fire, adding to it the white of an egg beaten well to a froth.  When it begins to boil, skim it as long as any froth rises; then put to each pit one pound of cane sugar and boil the whole slowly till it is a perfect syrup; which may be known by dropping a particle o your nail and if it congeals, it is done enough.  Let it stand and when cool put into bottles covefred with paper.  If taken warm it is excellent for colds and chills.

The same book contains a rather good recipe for elderberry wine which my father used to make very successfully

Farmhouse fare - recipes from country housewives submitted to Farmer's Weekly
Take 7 pounds of berries, 2 gallons of water, to each gallon of liquid add 3 pounds of best loaf sugar, one pound of raisins, a pinch of ground ginger, half an ounce of whole ginger crushed, 6 cloves, half a stick of cinamon and 1 lemon.
Cook the berries in the water, leave to cool for 24 hours crush, and strain through muslin or a hair sieve to remove all seeds and bits.  Put in [plastic or earthenware] container with a lid.  Add sugar and lemon cut in slices.  Boil the rest of the ingredients in a little of the liquid, strain and add to container.  Put lid on and leave for a few days.  Strain again. Wash out a glass demi-john and put liquid into demi-john with bung in and fermentation filter.  Leave to ferment [will be vigorous].  After 6 months it can be bottled - be careful no sediment enters bottles.

Drunk at room temperature this helps soothe sore throats.

My father's elderberry wine used to taste like a good port and was very nice with cheese.

How it works

see obervations, all related to its healing potential and all from Pubmed.

Related observations