A few weeks ago, I was wandering around our woods, and made the most fantastic discovery.
We have elderberries!
There are three little elderberry trees growing right in the woods by our house. I also discovered quite a few more elderberry trees growing in the woods by the side of our road. Time to go foraging!
It happened to be a lovely afternoon, the sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the baby was happy, and we went out to forage. I brought along some paper sacks to fill with my findings. I didn’t have much experience with foraging, but assumed it was going to be a breeze. I’m just picking berries, right? Well, I should have done a little research first.
We strolled along the road (which is never busy with traffic so we were safe) and found our first elderberry tree. I parked the stroller and grabbed one of my paper sacks. The tree wasn’t too tall but I had to grab some of the branches to pull the berries closer to me. I started plucking the berries off one by one. Yikes. That was going to take forever!
The stems and branches snapped off easily. So I started to do that instead. I went along the road and foraged from about five different trees. On my way back, I looked again at the trees as I passed. I was not a very nice forager. I left branches dangling, took too many green berries, and left the trees looking sad.
When I was back at the house taking the berries off the stems, I realized how many green berries I took. Way too many. I suddenly felt like I was a fur trader from the pioneer days that killed buffalo just for their fur and left the rest to rot in the sun!
Ok, maybe that is a little extreme. But I did learn from my foraging expedition. Be prepared with clippers and know where to trim the stems so as to leave the unripe berries and keep the branches intact. I’m pretty sure the trees will survive, and no real harm was done, but still, I should respect the trees a little better and only take what I need. Lesson learned.
The reason I wanted some elderberries is for their health benefits. They are high in vitamins A, B, and C, making them excellent immune boosters. (I am not a health professional, read my disclaimer here.) The most common way to ingest the elderberries for warding off illness is to make a syrup. There are lots of different recipes out there, and I used this one. It was easy to make and tastes pretty darn good!
Of course, you always want to be cautious when ingesting wild edibles. The green berries and stems can be poisonous to humans. It is very important to only use the ripe berries. It’s also best to drink elderberry syrup only as needed. You can use it as a preventative during cold and flu season, or if someone else in the house is ill, but year round use is not necessary.
I was able to find plenty of elderberries in my area. After I made the syrup I had plenty of berries leftover. I froze them to keep the nutrients intact until I decide what else I want to make with them. There are recipes for jams, wines, and breads with elderberries in them. Once I find the right one I’ll be making something tasty!
If you can’t find elderberries to forage in your area, you can buy dried berries online. You can find them here. (affiliate link)
Have you used Elderberries to boost your immune system?
This post is shared at the Homestead Barn Hop, Wellness Wednesday, Wildcraft Wednesday, Green Thumb Thursdays, Homestead Blog Hop, and We are That Family.