foraging, The Great Outdoors

Foraging for Blackberries & Elderberries {and what I made with them}

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Ah berries. One of summer’s sweetest, yummiest and healthiest gifts. Berry picking in the summer always brings back wonderful memories for me.

Did you pick berries in the summer as a child? If so, you probably remember the sweltering heat, berry stains on your fingers, pesky bugs and sneaking some fruit before it made it into the bowl.

And when you take the berries home…oh then the fun begins. Party with the berries! Haha. There is really nothing that compares with those fresh, juicy treats.

What to do with them?

I’m really into foraging (I’m sure you haven’t noticed 😉) Foraging in itself is great fun. Even better is a chance to preserve that harvest a bit longer and turn it into something scrumptious.

The photos below show the progression of the elderberry tree from flower to fruit.

The elderberries pictured are from harvest #1 and the blackberries are from harvest #2. And there are still more berries! It’s good to leave some for the “critters” anyways ☺

 

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Now I had some berries. I had nearly 2 cups total and then I did a little research.

Ugh.

Many of the elderberries I had painstakingly plucked were not ripe enough. None were green, but some were red and I didn’t want to make anyone sick by using underripe berries.

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Ripe berries are on the left, unripe on the right. The difference is subtle but important enough to take note of. ⤵⤵

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After properly separating the berries, I decided on making a syrup as per the recipe for Elderberry Syrup on the blog Wayward SparkI loosely followed the recipe and ended up with a tasty finished product. 😋

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Here’s what I did. I ended up with a little less than 1 cup of ripe berries. I had a few blackberries in there after *cough* eating some.

They were then mashed a bit, boiled, simmered and strained through cheesecloth.

At this point I had a bit less than 1/4 cup of juice. I neglected to add water at the beginning so I added a bit to make it a full 1/4 cup.

I added a small splash of lemon juice and 1/8 cup of raw honey to the warm juice and then froze attempted to freeze it.

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Psyche! Honey won’t freeze. Good try though I guess. *pats self on the back* I tried to make an apple and elderberry jelly earlier this week and I ended up with caramel-elderberry flavored candy! 😰 Boo. I like these results better.

There it will sit, in the freezer. I’ll take a bit as a tonic now and again to keep colds and flu away. Isn’t it awesome that elderberries can do that?

Ever wondered why?

This article from Huff Post says that the pigments, or “molecular chains known as anthocyanins…[are] capable of preventing viruses from reproducing and infecting new cells. They also kill many of the bacteria that cause chest and respiratory infections.”.

Cool, eh? Nature’s little wonder, the humble elderberry.

Hope you guys are having a good summer ☺ Have you had a chance to go berry picking yet this season?

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A few helpful references for you

https://www.talesfromthekitchenshed.com/2016/09/harvesting-elderberries-picking-preserving-recipes/

(Lots of info on harvesting and preserving.)

http://waywardspark.com/2013-food-preservation-season-elderberry-syrup/

(Recipe I followed.)