The elderberry is a dark colored pea-sized fruit that grows on elder trees. Elderberries are a pretty fruit because of the deep color that may be black, dark blue or red depending on the variety. The elderberry has a skin and inside that skin is a juicy flesh that elderberry lovers savor. Elderberries have small seeds also.
The most common elderberry trees are the Black Elder, the American elder and the red-berried elder. Experts say the fruit of the red berry elder should not be eaten as they contain alkaloids.
Choosing the Best
When buying elderberries, it’s important to check for mildew or mold. Juicy elderberries do not last long after picking and aging fruit will get soft. Choose berries that are firm and dry and do not show signs of damage. You also want to buy berries that have a rich even color that does not look faded.
It should be noted that only ripe elderberries are safe to eat.
Elderberries must be refrigerated. They should be eaten within a week of purchase.
You will not wash the elderberries until you are ready to eat them to avoid promoting the growth of mold. Once mold grows it will spread rapidly and quickly ruin a whole container of the fruit. Washing the fruit can make the fruit too moist and can remove the protective bloom.
After buying elderberries, check for damaged fruit that needs to be discarded. Place the remaining elderberries in a covered container that is placed on a refrigerator shelf.
Elderberries can be frozen as follows:
- Place cold water in a pan
- Add the elderberries and gently swirl around
- Drain the water
- Discard damaged berries
- Place the good elderberries on a cookie sheet
- Once frozen, move the elderberries to a plastic bag in the freezer
Frozen elderberries can last up to 12 months.
Preparing and Cooking
It is recommended that you only eat cooked elderberries. Berries that are not fully ripened contain toxins. To be safe you should fully cook elderberries and not eat them raw.
Elderberries must be handled gently because they can be easily damaged or crushed. To prepare elderberries for eating or cooking is simple.
• Put elderberries in a strainer
Gently run cold water over them
Remove any debris like stems
• Let water drain
Since frozen elderberries will be cooked, they can be used frozen.
Elderberries are delicious in pie and cobbler. Elderberries are also used to make Elderberry wine and juice. In addition, elderberry jams and jellies are popular also.
Dark colored fruits like elderberries have been found to be high in antioxidants. Elderberries are anti-aging food because the antioxidants fight against free radical damage to cells. This fruit contains a high level of Vitamin C and lots of Vitamin A, folate and Vitamin B6. These vitamins prevent damage to cells that lead to early aging and diseases like cancer.
Elderberries are also mineral content heavy and contain calcium, iron, potassium and much more. These minerals are important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and strong bones.
Following are the main nutrients in one (1) cup of elderberries.
- Vitamin A – 870 I.U.
- Vitamin C – 52.2 mg
- Dietary fiber – 10.2 g
- Folate – 8.7 mcg
- Vitamin B6 – .3 mg
- Niacin – .7 mg
- Riboflavin – .1 mg
- Thiamin – .1 mg
- No cholesterol
- No saturated fat
- Calcium – 55.1 mg
- Phosphorous – 56.6 mg
- Potassium – 406 mg
- Magnesium – 7.3 mg
- Copper – .1 mg
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 123 mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids – 235 mg
Elderberries are being studied as a fruit that can possibly ease flu symptoms also.
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