Wednesday, August 23, 2006

In this first photo the berries are not yet ready for picking- the go from green to red to purple but are never bright red! so cannot really be confused with the toxic red elderberry. The red elderberry blooms in June.

These ones are ready to pick!

Elderberry Syrup

It is elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) picking season, the branches are hanging low with purple juicy elderberries. We have three trees in our garden which I planted last year and two of them are aready offerring elderberries. It was an elder tree which I chose to plant Zoe's placenta under. I chose this mama tree as I thought it would keep her healthy! The elder also has a rich background of cultural superstitions. In the Middle Ages legends held that tree was home to witches and that cutting down one would bring on the wrath of those residing in the branches.

The Russians and the English believe that elder trees ward off evil spirits and it was considered good luck to plant a tree near your home. Sicilians think that sticks of elder wood can kill serpents and drive away thieves.

With the apprentices today we made syrup! We used Elderberries, Blackcurrants, Rosehips and Hibiscus (red) flowers which my friend Leslie brought back from Mexico last summer. The blackcurrants came from my friend Dre's garden a few miles away- next year I want to add Blackcurrants to the garden. It is a flovor that I remember from my childhood in England.

We made a really strong decoction (beginning with 6 cups of water) with the ingredients I listed above, then reduced it by a third. We then added 1 cup of honey and a little brandy to preserve it. The end result was very yummy! Now we are ready for the Winter! The berries contain more vitamin C than any other herb except rosehips and blackcurrant- so our syrup is high in Vit C

Elderberries are so versatile! You can make Wines, Champagne, Fritters, Ice cream, Jam.............

The berries can be added to apple pie (40 elderberries:60 apple) or blackberry jam (50:50). The elderberry is often known as the Englishman's grape, and it's nutritional values show that it is similar to the grape and more so...


Nutritional values:

Vitamin A: 600 I.U. per 100mg
Vitamin B: Thiamine 0.07mg
Riboflavin 0.06mg;
Niacin 0.5mg
Vitamin C: 36mg
Protein: 2.6mg
Calories: 72


Nutritional values:

Vitamin A: 80 I.U. per 100mg
Vitamin B: Thiamine 0.06mg;
Riboflavin 0.04mg;
Niacin 0.2mg
Vitamin C: 4mg
Protein: 1.4mg
Calories: 70

Please note
For safety reasons DO NOT use the leaves, bark or roots of Elder for consumtion They can be poisonous!!!

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