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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Elderberry Recipes

There are so many ways to use Blue Elderberries it's hard to know where to begin.  Here are a few of our favorite elderberry recipes to get you started.

Recipes Using Fresh (or frozen) Elderberries

Elderberry Crunch   (recipe from Carol Roelen / Kay Lupo)
Grease an 8” x 8” or 9” x 9” baking pan.  Spread 4 cups cleaned, fresh elderberries in the bottom of the pan.   Sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar.  In a small saucepan melt 1/3 cup butter.  Turn off the heat.  Stir in 1 cup sugar and ¾ cup flour.  Mix until crumbly.  Spread mixture on top of elderberries.   Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 425º F.

  Elderberry Upside-down Cake   (recipe from Carol Roelen)

2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 cups cleaned fresh or frozen elderberries (or combine with blueberries,
                                                                 blackberries, raspberries)
¼ cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups reduced fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375º.   Grease a 9 inch cake pan.   Pour the melted butter into the pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter.  Scatter the berries over the sugar.   Place butter, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed until well-blended.   Beat in egg and extracts.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating at low speed until just combined.   Pour batter on top of the berries.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden brown and sides are bubbly.  Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes, and invert onto a serving plate.   Serves 8.

Elderberry Muffins
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup applesauce
1 cup fresh or frozen elderberries
Stir together dry ingredients.  Beat egg, applesauce and berries together.  Stir berry mix into dry mix until well moistened.   Bake in greased (or lined) muffin tins at 425º for 15-20 minutes.                                                                             Makes 12-14 muffins

Recipes Using Dried Elderberries

Note: you can substitute dried elderberries for fresh in baked goods if you first reconstitute them.  Just covering the berries with boiling water and let them soak for an hour before using.  You can then use them in cakes, muffins, fruit cakes, etc. The dried berries will swell by 50%, so you need to multiply the amount called for in the recipe by 0.67 to get the amount of dried elderberries needed.

Elderberry Tea
Place 1-3 tsp dried elderberries in a tea strainer or tea bag.   Cover with 1 cup boiling water.  Let steep 5-10 minutes.   Remove berries.  Sweeten if desired.  Enjoy a nice, healthy cup of tea.    For a more intense flavor, you can pulverize dried elderberries in a coffee or spice grinder.  You’ll only need about 1 tsp pulverized elderberry per cup of tea.

Recipes Using Prepared Elderberry Juice

Preparing Elderberry Juice

Wash & clean the elderberries (about 6 qt. or 3 lb. fully ripe elderberries).  Crush berries & place in a large heavy pot.   Add water to just cover the berries and bring to a simmer.   Simmer about 30 minutes or until juice is a dark color.   Strain hot pulp mixture through a jelly bag to obtain prepared juice.

Canning Elderberry Jelly and Syrup

A good way preserve jellies and syrups is by canning them, using the sterilizing effects of heat.  This time honored method allows you to store jelly at room temperature.   But you need to be sure that you follow recommended methods to insure that your food is canned safely.  If you’re new to jelly-making (and preserving jellies/syrups using a boiling water bath) we suggest you read a good basic reference on home canning. A classic reference book is the Ball  Blue Book Guide To Preserving.   If you are using commercial fruit pectin, recipes and canning instructions are included in each package of pectin.   Some good on-line resources are:




Elderberry Jelly (using Sure-Jell dry pectin)
Place the following in a large heavy pot
3 cups prepared elderberry juice
1/4 cup  fresh lemon juice
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp.  butter or margarine
4-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
Bring to full rolling boil, stirring often.   Add the sugar and stir in quickly.   Bring again to full rolling boil.   Boil 1 ½ minutes.  Fill prepared canning jars.   Process in boiling water bath for 5  minutes (if processing at 1,001 feet to 3,000 feet, add 5 minutes to processing time; if processing at higher elevations, see instructions for processing at altitude in the instructions included with the pectin or on-line).    Makes about five to six   8-oz jars.     Enjoy this old-time favorite!

Elderberry Jelly (using Certo liquid pectin)
3 cups prepared Elderberryjuice (buy about 6 qt. or 3 lb. fully ripe elderberries)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
½ tsp. butter or margarine
2 pouches CERTO Liquid Fruit Pectin
Measure exactly 3 cups juice into a heavy 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.  Stir sugar into juice in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle hot jelly quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.   Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (adjust time for high altitude if processing at over 1000 ft elevation).    
                                                                  Makes about 7 1-cup jars.

Elderberry-Apple Jelly (no added pectin)
Elderberries don’t have much pectin (the natural substance that causes jams & jellies to ‘jell’).  If you want to make an Elderberry Jelly with no added commercial pectin, you’ll need to combine the elderberries with a fruit that has high levels of natural pectin like tart (baking) apples or crabapples.  
First prepare an Elderberry/apple juice.   You’ll need about 6 quarts (3 lb) ripe elderberries and 4 medium-size tart cooking apples (Granny Smith; Gravenstein; Rome).  Mash the berries and quarter/chop the apples.   Proceed as discussed above under ‘Preparing Elderberry Juice’ to prepare the Elderberry/Apple juice.
Measured Elderberry-Apple juice
1 cup white sugar per cup of prepared juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Place juice, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy 6- or 8 quart saucepan.    Bring mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.   Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring regularly,  until the mixture reaches 220°F.  on a candy/jelly thermometer (NOTE: For each 1000 feet of altitude above sea level, subtract 2 degrees F. For instance, at 1,000 feet of altitude, the jelly is done at 218°F; at 2,000 feet, 216°F, etc.). If you don’t have a candy thermometer,  there are other ways to test whether your jelly is done (see http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/jelly_point.html).  Remove from heat.  Fill prepared canning jars.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (adjust time for high altitude if processing at over 1000 ft elevation). 

Elderberry Syrup  (thicker syrup for pancakes, dessert topping, etc.)
Prepare as for Elderberry Jelly but use ½ the amount of pectin called for in the recipe.  Process as for jelly – or store short term in the refrigerator. 

Elderberry Syrup (thinner syrup for flavoring drinks)
1 cup prepared juice
1 cup sugar
Optional: lemon juice; cinnamon (use a cinnamon stick – remove after cooking); other spices as desired)
Place sugar, syrup and spices (optional) in a heavy saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat until mixture boils.  Continue to simmer 5 additional minutes.  Remove from heat.   May be processed with boiling water bath (as for jelly) or cooled and stored in a jar in the refrigerator.   You can make this syrup in any amount needed – just use 1 cup sugar per cup of juice.    
This syrup makes a refreshing summer drink when used to flavor sparkling water or 7-Up.  You can also use it in punch, lemonade or over ice cream.

If you have an elderberry recipe you'd like to share, please feel free to post it as a comment, below.





  1. I have 5 elderberry bushes in my back yard, and the amount of flower clusters right now is overwhelming! A man I met recently told me his Swedish grandmother used elderberry flowers in pancakes. I would love to know if there's more to it than washing the blossoms and cutting off the stems to use them this way - plus are there other ways to use either the blossoms or ripe berries than in jelly pies or syrup (I do NOT drink wine and would not make it). Nancy

  2. Hi Nancy:
    We've also got loads of elderflowers now. See this posting for recipes using elderflowers: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/07/california-gourmet-cooking-with.html

  3. I've heard you can just shake the petals and leave the rest of the flower. That way you don't sacrifice any berries.

  4. You can also make pie with them use a favorite blackberry pie recipe and substitute elderberries instead

  5. You can also make pie with them use a favorite blackberry pie recipe and substitute elderberries instead