Ever tried to find elderberry jam or preserves in Florida? Good luck, you can’t, or at least no where I’ve looked. Maybe its more of a northern thing. Anyway, I happen to really enjoy it and so do the girls which is why I was excited to see fruit on our elderberry tree.
I’m assuming the one pictured below is Sambucus canadensis otherwise know as American Elder. This huge tree is situated in our “food forest” . It was big when we moved in over 10 years ago. Based on it’s size (over 20 ft), I’d say it has been there for pretty long time. For some reason it doesn’t fruit every year, but this year it seems to doing really well.
Elderberry is usually found in moist soil along the edge of wetlands, which explains why is growing near the creek. If you walk back along the trail you can see suckers popping up over the place. Birds spread the seeds, and it’s common to see dense stands of it growing wild along highways and fence rows.
Elderberry flowers are produced throughout the spring and summer, but in much of Florida there are some elderberries in bloom every month of the year. Ours is mainly in the summer time.
Cooking with edlerberry..
Raw elderberries don’t taste good (ask me how I know), on top of that, they contain alkaloids which are toxic (great I may have poisoned myself). Cooking them eliminates the alkaloids and improves the taste. Once processed you can make pies, jellies, and even elderberry wine, but that takes a lot of fruit.
Once you harvest the clusters, strip the berries from the stems, simmer with a little water for 15 minutes, squeeze out the juice in cheesecloth, and prepare jelly or wine as you would with any other fruit juice. The flowers are also edible, and used in jams, jellies and are the basis of elderflower fritters. Dip entire clusters of blossoms in flour and fry. From Floridata
I harvested at least a dozen or more clusters and got maybe 10 ounces of berries. It’s a messy labor intensive process stripping the berries. I’d like to have at least a couple of pounds, so these were frozen. I’ll gather some more from the tree once they’ve ripened..that is if the birds don’t get them first.
For more elderberry information check out the Florida Data site. Stay tuned, I plan to make some elderberry preserves in the next couple of weeks.