Elderberry FAQs

nick musica
Published Apr 18, 2020. Read time: 8 mins

Elderberry FAQs

So, why bother with the elderberry? We’re glad you asked. The elderberry juice is worth the squeeze in part because it’s known to be one of the most unbelievably healthy things you can eat. Renowned for their natural immune-boosting reputation, elderberries are easily cooked down into a syrup that is used in wellness regimens, tonics and holistic health practices as a delicious way to partake in elderberry’s nutrient-dense juice.

We just think they’re delicious.

What Is Elderberry

The elderberry is a tiny berry that’s often transformed into a rich, potent and delicious berry syrup rather than being eaten raw. Elderberry flavor comes alive when cooked, particularly into flavorful syrups and other cooking methods. Many describe the distinct flavor of elderberry as a combination of dark purple berries that are sweet and tart like blueberries, and bitter and complex like acai.

While ripe elderberries can be eaten raw, they don't have much flavor in that state and the seedy texture doesn’t do them any favors. Then there’s the whole toxicity thing with elderberries. Under ripened elderberries, along with leaves and stems of the plant, contain cyanide (aka, they’re toxic). But fear not, fruit fam! When you receive your FruitStand shipment of elderberries, you’ll see that we make it very easy for you to respect your elders. Elderberries, that is.

The teensy bit of precaution you need to take, along with a little time at the stovetop is well worth the unique and delicious flavor that the elderberry produces in drinks, desserts and savory dishes alike. Once you get it, you’re hooked.

Elderberries are native to the eastern half of North America and Central America. These tiny berries grow in dainty clusters on a deciduous shrub.

What Color Is Elderberry

Ripe elderberries are dark purple to nearly black in color. Green elderberries are not ripe, making them toxic and inedible.

How To Tell If Elderberries Are Ripe

It’s easy to spot ripe clusters of elderberries. Ripe elderberries are dark purple to nearly black in color, with a bit of a wrinkle in their skin. Unripened elderberries are green and inedible due to their potential toxicity. Remove any green elderberries, or any whose skin has not fully transitioned into a deep, dark purple color.

How To Prepare Elderberry

Elderberries are typically prepared through cooking methods like boiling and baking. Elderberry recipes often call for preparations that extract the elderberry juice and flavor into liquid so that the skin and seeds can be separated.

In small amounts, elderberries can also be eaten raw. But we like to save elderberries for the syrups.

Are Elderberry Seeds Edible

While ripe, raw elderberries are generally edible in small amounts, seeds of the elderberry are known to contain toxic components. However, the toxic compounds are easily broken down when cooked. Therefore it is strongly recommended that elderberry seeds be cooked before eating.

Where Does Elderberry Grow

Elderberries are native to North America and Central America. In the United States elderberries grow in dainty clusters called cymes on deciduous shrubs just about everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. While they’re native to a broad area of the US, elderberries are quite rare and difficult to find. That’s because those delicate clusters make it very difficult to commercially produce. Luckily, you have the FruitStand elderberry connection!

Nutrition Of Elderberry

Elderberry is prized for its nutritional value, earning elderberries a beloved place in wellness regimens. The high vitamin C and nutritional makeup of elderberries are believed to alleviate cold and flu symptoms and naturally boost immunity.

1 cup elderberry contains:

  • Calories 106
  • Protein 1g
  • Carbohydrates 27g
  • Fiber 10g
  • Calcium 55 mg
  • Iron 2mg
  • Magnesium 7g
  • Phosphorous 57mg
  • Potassium 406 mg
  • Sodium 9mg
  • Vitamin C 52mg


The USDA has even more information about the nutritional makeup of elderberries here. Share your elderberry-infused remedies with us on Instagram @fruitstandcom!

When Is Elderberry In Season

Elderberry season from summer lasts through early fall, roughly from July through September in the United States. Elderberry season peaks toward the end of the season, from about mid-August through mid-September.

What Does Elderberry Go In

Elderberry is ideal when used in jams, jellies, syrups and drinks The deep berry flavor pairs particularly well with beef and slow cooking recipes as well.

What Does Elderberry Taste Like

When cooked, elderberry flavor transforms into a rich combination of pleasantly bitter, floral and sweet dark berry flavors that is uniquely elderberry. While ripe elderberries can be eaten raw in small amounts, they don't have much desirable flavor.

Ways To Eat Elderberry

Elderberries can be eaten raw in small amounts, but elderberries typically cooked before consuming. Elderberries can be eaten cooked into syrups, sauces and slow-cooking methods. Once cooked down, elderberries can be used in syrups, jams and jellies, countless drinks and savory applications.

Ways To Drink Elderberry

It’s almost as if elderberry was made specifically for delicious beverages. Add elderberry syrups and shrub recipes to cocktails, enhanced waters, juices, teas, smoothies and tonics. To make delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, use your elderberries to make a basic syrup, then add it to your drinks.

How To Store Elderberries

Once elderberries are ripe, the best way to store them is to remove the berries from their lacy cluster and refrigerate them in a sealed storage container. Be sure to remove any green renegade berries and all plant debris. Freezing whole clusters can also help make the process of removing elderberries from their stems easier.

Can Dogs Eat Elderberries

Ripened elderberries are generally safe for puppers to consume. Keep dogs away from unripened elderberries and any plant material, as this can cause digestive tract issues and even be poisonous to dogs. Your FruitStand fam encourages you to clear the safety of any new fruits or veggies with your veterinarian before offering them your pooch.

Does Elderberry Stain

Elderberries have a potential to leave behind an impressive stain if it lands on most fabrics. We recommend rocking an apron when preparing elderberries to protect your clothing. If you do happen to get a spot of elderberry juice on fabric, spot treat it right away with stain remover.

Fruit Geek 101: Keep a portable stain stick on hand for impromptu fruit feasts. Quickly treating a fruit juice spot greatly increases your chances of avoiding a stain.

How To Get Elderberries Out Of Clothing

Fails happen. If you drop anything elderberry on your clothing, table cloth or napkins, first treat the spot with a stain remover that’s safe for that fabric. Follow the directions on the stain removal product to prevent the spot from setting, and pop the item into the washer as soon as you can.


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