by Daisy

Years ago, like most college students, I lived by myself in a cabin at the edge of a big woods.

Let’s try again.

Years ago, like most college students, I spent my summers walking along fencerows picking elderberries for homemade jam.


Maybe that’s why none of the sororities were falling over themselves to get me to rush.

Not very involved in campus life.  Too busy with the foraging and the canning.

I tried to set up a little club with some red squirrels and owls, but they told me (politely) I was too nerdy for them.

I decided to plant my own elderberries this year, in the garden.  While they aren’t eaten fresh (tummyache), when cooked they have a distinct, vaguely pomegranate-like flavor, and make wonderful jelly.

I have two varieties for pollination, Samdal and Samyl, and the bare-root plants have sprouted well.

I’ll post updates as the season goes on, including whether or not I have any luck getting the fruit before the birds get the rush on me.

top photo Nourse Farms

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire April 19, 2011 at 11:55 am

Apparently you can make a syrup which poured over a vodka on the rocks is the best cure for a sore throat 🙂

Lynnette April 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I hope you get some. You can be prepared for the winter season and sick season with some elderberry syrup. 🙂

Erica April 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

It’s good to know I wasn’t the only college student who walked along country roads, foraging and communing with the frogs. And coming home with bouquets of wild flowers:)

Melissa in upstate NY April 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm

For several years i have made elderberry & rosehip syrup. We use it mostly for sickness through the winters. I had gotten the swine flue and took this every few hours for two days…fever broke and was feeling much much better. I have made elderberry wine, jam, i have frozen the berries to use at a later date because i had too many…they grow wild in our pasture and usually (if i can get them before the cows) harves in August. One of my favorite drinks is….1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup elderberry syrup and water….makes the most amazing lemonade…YUMMMY

Naomi April 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Too many? Sounds like a good problem to have! They can always be dehydrated, too. That’s how I buy them at the health food store in bulk.

Suzanne April 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I noticed your photo was from Nourse Farms: I planted two elderberries, the same varieties as you, last year and after a heavy snow season in the Northeast, they are back and roaring away with buds and new leaves. From my Master Gardener class, I have learned they are bad-bug resistant, highly productive and have pretty flowers to boot. We are told that deer seem to avoid them. Yay! I am looking foward to the progress here and I hope you will update us as the season progresses. Thank you.

Rachael April 19, 2011 at 8:53 pm

In a way, I’m sorry, but I have to see the humour in you needing to plant them. We have wild varieties hanging over the fence and self-sown all over our suburban New Zealand section. At least it is a useful introduced weed, and I just pick and choose which ones are in a suitable place to let them stay. I love elderflowers. I think elderfower cordial is divine. I have been slack about preserving this year as the only one that has been old enough to be producing berries is the one hanging over the fence.. Next year, without earthquakes to contend with, I hope to be back to preserving elderberries.

Silverilex April 20, 2011 at 1:21 am

You can make some interesting food stuffs from the elderflowers too. The elderberry bushes grow in the hedgerows here in England, but harvesting the flowers or the berries is a bum fight as every one else loves them too! LOL We have better luck with the sloes and the rosehips. Good luck and happy harvesting!

Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free April 20, 2011 at 5:33 am

We made elderberry pie with berries picked from fencerows around an old pasture some years ago. Where we live now there is one bush on our wooded lot — not much sun for a large crop, too many birds competing with us for those berries. I wonder if a net over the bush would protect the berries?

jan April 20, 2011 at 5:57 am

Ahhh….brought back memories. Mom and I used to pick elderberries along the country roads. She made the best jelly with them. We enjoyed all winter with toast or home made biscuits. So good.

Judy Stewart April 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I planted some elderberry plants which were quickly and repeated mowed by the man of the house. I do have some wild ones growing in my blackberry vines. The birds usually get the fruit before I do.

Rhonda April 21, 2011 at 5:51 am

Love elderberries- I’m interested to see how yours do for you! I’ve planted several bushes twice now and have had them heave out of the ground both times. I’m thinking maybe I need to grow them out in pots for a bigger bush before I plant, or set them in concrete 😉

allotments 4 you April 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm

We don’t get to see that many elderberries round here as the blossom is harvested quick to make elderflower water….maybe i will try to get hold of some this year though….I do love elderflower water!!

Tomato Lady April 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Tanya–I’d love to hear more about elderflower water.

JavaLady62 April 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Hidee Ho !! Please, where can I order elderberry bushes or seedlings? Mom has some on her farm but is still keeping the locations of the bushes, and hence the berries, top secret. So, I suppose it is time to plant my own !! My family makes elderberry jelly and elderberry wine with the lovely ripened berries.

Tomato Lady April 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm

JavaLady62–I got mine from Nourse.

Don June 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Yawl are missing it, the main reason for elderberies is to make Elderberry pie


Tomato Lady June 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Don–Valid point.

elisa June 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm

now, i’ve never gotten a chance to use elderberries yet, my fingers are crossed for this summer. but i’ve turned elderflowers into cordial, liqueur, champagne, infused honey with them, and now sherry. the cordial is gorgeous in popsicles, in jelly, in sparkling wine, and design*sponge just mentioned elderflower in gin.

but i’m counting on those elderberries, for a medicinal syrup, and now, clearly, pie! x

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