Ingredient Spotlight: Elderberries
Elderberries are tangy and somewhat grape-y in flavor and commonly used to make cordials, syrups, wine, preserves, and pies. (Ours are destined for a honey-based syrup.) High in Vitamin C and antioxidants, they have also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Several species exist, and those found in North America are generally Sambucus canadensis (American Elderberry) or Sambucus nigra (Black Elderberry).
The natural sweetness of elderberries tends to be pretty mild, so sweetener is usually added. Although the berries have a rich flavor on their own, they also pair especially well with apples, blackberries, and grapes. Here are some great examples of elderberry foraging and cookery around the web, with plenty of photos:
Important notes: Before using elderberries, take care to discard all stems, leaves, and unripe berries, as they contain hydrocyanic acid and sambucine, which can cause nausea. The ripe black, blue, or purple berries are safe to eat but should be cooked first to temper their astringency. Avoid red and green elderberries.
Do you have any experience using elderberries?
Related: A Roundup Of Wild And Foraged Foods