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Elderberry Experiments

Posted Sep 14 2009 10:58pm
For a couple of years now I've spotted some small dark berries at the edge of our driveway. (Understand that our driveway is 3/4 of a mile long.) I thought they may be Elderberry. This year I finally confirmed that yes, in fact, they are elderberries, and I decided to pick them.

These berries ended up being more challenging than expected. From the driveway it looked like the berries were on a small bush that was right on the driveway. The bush actually is very large and growing about ten feet down a very steep slope. The berries that I saw from the driveway were actually the berries on the very top of the bush. They were just out of reach from the driveway. So, down the slope we went. Once at the bottom of the shrub, most of the berries were above our heads. Good thing the kids like to climb. Once we were able to get to the berries, we picked quite a few in a very short time.

We brought them home, where I realized that I had no idea what to do with Elderberries. I looked in a few wild food cookbooks. I did a google search, and asked a few friends on Facebook. I found a lot of interesting ideas, but pancakes sounded the easiest, not to mention they could serve as dinner that night.

I mixed up some Buttermilk Pancakes, and added the Elderberries to the cakes on the griddle. I like the way the Elderberries cooked up in the pancakes. They hold their shape and don't make a juicy mess. The taste, though, is pretty tart. The kids liked them. I thought they were ok, but I'd rather have blueberries.

Many of my friends also recommended Elderberry Pie. I made up some pie crust, and found a recipe for pie. The recipe called for three cups of berries and one cup of sugar. I was not thrilled with the result. The pie looks nice. The crust was wonderful, but the pie was too tart. If I make another Elderberry Pie I will use more sugar.

In looking at Elderberry recipes, I often read that the berries are an acquired taste. After the pancakes and pie, I began to see the truth in that statement. There were still berries left. I decided to try a recipe for bread given to me by a Facebook friend.

Elderberry Bread
3 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 1/8 cup oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla ext.
2 cup sugar
1 tsp butter ext.
1 cup elderberries(stemmed)
1 tsp almond ext.
3 eggs

Mix above all together except for the elderberries. Blend 1-2 minutes with mixer. Add elderberries and stir with a spoon. Pour into 2 large or 5 mini loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. While still hot glaze in pan. Cool and remove from pan. Enjoy!

tsp butter extract
tsp almond extract
tsp vanilla extract
cup orange juice
cup powdered sugar

Mix all together until smooth. Spoon over top of baked loaves.
This recipe restored my hope that I could enjoy Elderberries. I did not use that butter extract. I didn't even make the glaze. The bread itself was quite delicious.

Picking and using elderberries proved to be a bit more challenging than I imagined. It was an experiment. I'm done with elderberries for this year, but I probably will give them a try again next year.
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