Last year I planted some elderberry bushes (Sambucus nigra). I only planted two, which I felt was probably going to be more than enough for our purpose and for them to be able to pollinate each other. It's a very strange shrub, partially woody, partially soft. It's fragile in storms and tends to break off easily. It does grow fast and fairly tall and this year it bloomed and now has berries on both bushes. I won't say it's a bumper crop. I guess I won't know that until I harvest them.
Harvesting could be interesting. Supposedly, the umbels will just break off and then a fork is used to get them off of the stems. Only the deep purple fruits are picked, not the green or unripened fruits. Elderberry has poisonous parts. The stems and leaves contain cyanide, and the unripened fruit may cause stomach distress. So only the beautiful deep purple fruits are desired.
Why, you might ask, am I bothering to grow a fragile, poisonous plant? Elderberries are known to boost the immune system, provide a burst of vitamins, is higher in vitamin C than oranges, help with colds and flu, are antioxidants, anti-carcinogenic and an all around good thing to help with your health.
Now is the time to start working on your immune system. By being outside and gaining the vitamin D from the sun, something many of us lack, especially if you live in the north or places where the sun hides a good portion of the year or you are stuck inside. Get outside and get some sun. Another thing to do is to eat or drink elderberries. I craft an elderberry syrup for my family to take. I'm also going to try some other recipes, like jam, mead, infused honey, and maybe just keep some frozen. There is also elderberry ice cream. So many uses.
Immune Boost Syrup
1/2 c. dried elderberries
3 c. water
1 c. raw honey
2/3 c. raw apple cider
Fill a pot with the water and elderberries. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and mush the fruit well. Strain liquid into a separate bowl using a cheese cloth, coffee filter or something similar. Add honey to the liquid and stir well, then add the ACV. Pour into a jar and store in fridge for up to six months.
As a tonic: Adults 1 Tbl per day Children 1 tsp a day
Take every hour for a cold/flu