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Storing elderberries for flu season.

 
pollinator
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I have lots of elderberries this year and they’re nearly ready! I plan on making some syrup but I don’t think that will keep for long. Do any of you have a time tested way to keep them for months? I’d love to hear about it.
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elderberries
 
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Freezing until you're ready to cook them?

I don't have enough elderberries yet to freeze them, but I've frozen aronia (similar berry) for more than a year with no problem (We're still eating off the 2018 crop since most of 2019's was lost due to a freeze).

You could also make "hedge jam" with various kinds of berries, or just elderberry.
 
Scott Stiller
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Thanks Kena. I really appreciate the aronia berry suggestion too since I’m blessed with those as well.
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Aronia
Aronia
 
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I've had great success freezing them. Since they are so darn small, I just snip the whole umbrel of berries and give them a gentle wash to encourage the critters to leave. Once they are mostly dry, I put them berries down/stem up on some freezer paper on a sheet and slide into the freezer. Once they are frozen, they pop off the stem. Stem in to the compost bucket, berries into a bag or bin and back in the freezer. I still have a little bit from last summer. I stick them in oatmeal or smoothies during the winter and the kids think they are great. Syrup is wonderful, too, but definitely keep it refrigerated.

As for aronia, they never last long enough to make it to storage. I make a syrup out of them and then dilute it in water or lemonade or what-have-ya. Granted, I only have one large aronia bush and a huge stand of elderberries.... The aronia syrup is a big hit with the kiddos so it doesn't stick around long enough.

...thinking... the seed in the berry is pretty small in elderberries, you could probably dry them easily and then grind into a powder... ? .... keep that for sprinkling in cereals, yogurt or smoothies during the cool months...
 
pollinator
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when i make syrup, i stabilize it with alcohol. then it does keep well. and as far as i can tell, it doesn't lose effectiveness. a friend made a similar syrup with aronia.

i agree that they do freeze well.
 
Kena Landry
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Holly Magnani wrote:
As for aronia, they never last long enough to make it to storage. I make a syrup out of them and then dilute it in water or lemonade or what-have-ya. Granted, I only have one large aronia bush and a huge stand of elderberries.... The aronia syrup is a big hit with the kiddos so it doesn't stick around long enough.



Can you give your recipe for aronia syrup?

We use ours as is in oatmeal, smoothies, applesauce (gives a wonderful color) and apple crisp/crumble.
 
Scott Stiller
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Great suggestions guy, very appreciated.
 
Scott Stiller
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Hey Holly. You don’t cook at all? Just freeze and eat?
 
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Why do you not feel syrup would last? I make a lot of cordials from many different berries and they all last well over a year when bottled. You could make the syrup and then freeze it in ice cubes it would take less space in the freezer than the fresh berries, and in all likelyhood you won't want to make syrup if you have the flu!
 
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I like making vinegar with them cause I don't eat refined sugar. Vinegar lasts a looong time.

I've done it two ways.  I've crushed the berries up and covered with water, and I've also juiced the berries and fermented just the juice. When I did it that way, it tasted way better...up until I went away for a few days and it got moldy :(

This year I'll try juicing them again and stay close to home.
 
Scott Stiller
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I’ve never done anything with elderberries before. We got our first harvest last year while we were in South America. We let friends get what the birds had left so all of this is new. I’ve read that honey makes the syrup last longer but my wife can’t have honey. I have a lot of berries this year so I’d love to try several different preparations to see what we prefer.
 
Scott Stiller
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Thanks Jan. I’d love to see a vinegar recipe if you have time.
 
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Great discussion!  I planted some elderberry in my brand new food forest this spring.  They are growing really fast and I can't wait to try some of these ideas!  Fermenting the juice sounds very promising!
 
Jan White
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Oi. A recipe? I do a big batch every few years, so I never remember what I did last time. Just look up fruit scrap vinegar recipes online. You'll find that every recipe is different and they all result in the same thing. Fruit wants to be vinegar, so there's not much you need to do.

When I did the juice only batch, I didn't add any sugar, but you can to get the fermentation going more reliably. Most recipes have sugar, but it gets eaten up in the fermentation. When I did the crushed berries in water, I did add a bit of sugar, and I think I added a splash of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar I had.

The only thing to watch out for is to make sure you stir regularly when the fruit is in there so it doesn't get moldy. Once the fruit is strained out, you can get lazier about it. My juice was really pulpy, which is why it got moldy when I left it.

Maybe do a small mason jar sized batch with whatever fruit you're not too attached to. Then you get a feel for the process and aren't worrying about messing up your precious elderberries.

You get limited help from me! Sorry!
 
Scott Stiller
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No problem Jan! I’ve had requests to give up my Big O Biscuit recipe for years. I finally did awhile back but it was painful. I never paid attention before.
 
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This is a great strategy.  Elderberries are a great, native, nutritious antiviral.  Research based, time tested.   When do you get the flu? Winter. No fresh elderberries available on the tree then.  We have made jam out of elderberries for years. And they keep for years.  Typical canning process. Works great because you have to cook the elderberries anyway.
John S
PDX OR
 
Scott Stiller
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I think I’m going to tincture quite a bit of it. After I made my original post on this thread I found out how to go about it. I’ve had great success with tinctures in the past. Hops plus milky oats has been my favorite. I’ve made quite a bit of lemon balm tincture as well. I look forward to trying several different ways of keeping them good until winter.
 
Holly Magnani
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Scott Stiller wrote:Hey Holly. You don’t cook at all? Just freeze and eat?



I eat them reasonably fresh. They get cooked if I make syrup.
 
Holly Magnani
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Why do you not feel syrup would last? I make a lot of cordials from many different berries and they all last well over a year when bottled. You could make the syrup and then freeze it in ice cubes it would take less space in the freezer than the fresh berries, and in all likelyhood you won't want to make syrup if you have the flu!



I only meant that we consume it quickly.  Right now, we only have 1 big bush. Need to plant more.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Holly Magnani wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:Why do you not feel syrup would last? I make a lot of cordials from many different berries and they all last well over a year when bottled. You could make the syrup and then freeze it in ice cubes it would take less space in the freezer than the fresh berries, and in all likelyhood you won't want to make syrup if you have the flu!



I only meant that we consume it quickly.  Right now, we only have 1 big bush. Need to plant more.



Ah Not a problem I have with elderberries I've probably got at least 100 bushes.. but I know the issue with other things. I'm eying up my 5 plums this year!
 
Scott Stiller
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Ever wondered why elderberry products are so expensive? It took a hour to fill this pint jar 3/4 full of berries. I decided to tincture first. 100 proof vodka should do the trick. Plan to shake daily for six weeks, strain and use this winter. Will be trying other suggestions too.
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[Thumbnail for D056CCF7-D249-4AB0-9D63-0A2D2239B322.jpeg]
 
John Suavecito
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Some people use glycerin instead of alcohol, because they believe that although alcohol extracts and preserves the medicine extremely well, once it goes into your cell, it is surrounded by....... alcohol, which isn't really good for you.
John S
PDX OR
 
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I make this: https://thenourishinghearthfire.com/2018/05/16/spiced-elderberry-oxymel-a-herbal-cold-and-flu-medicine/

To make it keep longer, I heat it up once the honey and vinegar are added, and then I put it in hot jars with hot lids, but it could also be water bath canned for 5 minutes.
 
Scott Stiller
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Saved that one Kate. Thank you!
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