Name: Sambucus nigra L.
Origin: Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria
Aroma: Flowers are floral, creamy, and summery
Flavor: Berries range from tart to tangy to bitter
Our Products: Dried berries, Leaf, Powder
Contact PGI for: micro reduction, roasting, blending, milling, and social involvement with growers.
Native to parts of Canada and the United States, this intriguing plant caused quite a stir in mythology and folklore. The earliest traces of cultivation of elderberry came from Switzerland and dates to around 2000 BCE. Beliefs about the use of the wood implied that it had mythical properties and depending on your culture and religion they were either good or devilish. One such Norse belief was that the Elder Mother (or Hylde Moer) lived within the elder tree and she would haunt or harm any soul that built from her wood. Though, many cultures used the elder wood to make small instruments that produce a pleasant yet piercing sound quality that was said to be pleasing to faeries and spirits alike. When Christianity gained popularity the tree became associated with witches as well as sorrow due to the cross in which Jesus was hung being made from elder wood. Despite this association, many places around the world thought that elder plants could protect them from evil spirits and sometimes branches placed inside graves or sapling trees were planted on top to aid the deceased.
- 8 large elder flowers
- 2 pints boiling hot filtered water
- 6 pints cold filtered water
- 1.5 pounds sugar
- .25 cup cider vinegar
Combine the boiling water and sugar until completely dissolved. Add the cold water and stir in the vinegar and flowers. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature for 48 hours. Stir the mixture every couple hours throughout the day. Once froth has gathered at the top, pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a clean glass container. Leave about an inch of space from the top and leave at room temperature for one week. Make sure that each day you briefly open the bottle (called burping). After the week is over, move them into the fridge for another week and proceed to “burp” the bottle once a day. When the second week is up, pour a glass and enjoy!
Despite much of the superstitions, all parts of the elderberry plant were used for a variety of ways and possess an impressive list of folk medicinal uses. The concoctions that favored this plant are limitless and could range from edible medicine to amulets and charms to aid a person's ailments. The berries themselves are thought to be rich in vitamins and minerals especially when taken as a syrup or tonic. More modernly, herbalists employ the use of elderberry flower as well as the berries to ward off sinus and lung infections at the onset of winter.