September is the month to be on the lookout for Elderberries. If you’re like me; I forage mine from the wild and make my own Elderberry Syrup. My purpose in it is medicinal to boost my family’s immunity when cold and flu season rolls around but you can also make jam, pancake syrup, pies, and throat lozenges.
Today I’m sharing ideas with the rest of the Cozy Living bunch like we do every month, hosted by Jennifer. For more September ideas click on the thumbnails at the end of this post.
My BFF and I cruise back roads and do our elderberry picking. They grow mostly in wet or swampy areas in the wild but will grow perfectly in any other condition. Adding them to your landscape design makes for a beautiful flowering shrub, as well as a berry producing plant you can eat to your yard.
You can identify elderberries in the spring by their flat white/yellowish saucer shaped flowers. Most flower heads are the size of my hand spread out. Did you know the flowers are also edible? What a fabulous shrub to have! Once the flowers fade a small, hard green berry will form and as it ripens it turns dark purple almost black. The berry clusters have reddish purple stems and mimic the flowers in size and shape.
When harvesting cut the entire berry cluster and deal with removing the berries at a later time. It’s to hard to try and remove them while picking so save it for later, and use my method below for making the job fast and easy.
Once I get them home I add the berries and stems to a plastic container with a lid. Pop it into the freezer overnight and the next morning give the container a good shake and most of the berries will fall from the stems. You may have to pick off a few but they roll off easily between your fingers once they’re frozen.
Next I either refreeze them in storage bags or dehydrate them. I find the dehydrated last longer and take up less space. Every dehydrator is different so I can’t give you an exact number of hours but overnight usually does the trick. I do add mesh screen to my dehydrator rack so the berries don’t fall through. Once dehydrated pack them in mason jars and store.
I make Elderberry syrup with mine and normally double the recipe. Once it’s made I can it in a hot water bath for 15 minutes; that way I’m all set for winter and it’s seasonal illnesses.
PLANTING FROM CUTTINGS
The way to start new plants is to take cutting from branches about 18″ long, put the cut side down in water until it roots and then plant. I will take more cuttings than I need in case some don’t root. If you end up with everything propagating you can gift what you don’t need to friends, family, or a local gardening swap. I say an elderberry bush is something everyone need to have access too!
Don’t forget to check out the links below, and I’ll be back next to share my tomato-canning season.