elderberry juice cocktail

From the Forest // Elderberry Juice

Let me just start by saying DON’T JUICE RANDOM BERRIES YOU FIND IN THE WOODS. Be a responsible forager and clearly and thoroughly identify your forest berries before you consume.

OK, now that that is out of the way, let me share with you our recent foray into the world of elderberries:

I knew that elderberries were considered hella good for you (packed with vitamin C and all those good cold and flu fighting antioxidants and vitamins) – so when Derek came back from foraging in the nearby woods for chanterelle mushrooms and mentioned he had found the motherland of elderberry clusters while he was out, well, we were excited to put those elderberries to use! Five gallons of elderberries later…

Now, my intention is to eventually make elderberry syrup – but recently we’ve been pinched for time, so, in the meantime, I did a quick juicing (bringing the berries to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 min, then strain) and froze the juice. Hopefully, when our schedule slows down I can make a yummy elderberry syrup – but a quick juice with fresh ginger, lemon peel, and one batch with a pinch of cloves will hold us over. I might have added a smidgeon of granulated OG raw sugar to the pot, too. Maybe. 🙂

Note: when boiling use equal parts water to berries. I just threw my berries in a big pot and covered with water. SUPER scientific. If using dried berries, the ratio is 1 part berries 2 parts water.

What I didn’t freeze we’ve been enjoying with soda water from the Soda Stream. The color is vibrant and lovely – add a splash of fresh lime or lemon juice and you have yourself a tasty homemade soda provided by the forest!

Here’s a quick WebMD bit about elderberries. And here is another source of information regarding these berries.

Stay tuned for when I transform the juice into syrup in the coming months!

Until then, here are some images of the berry-to-beverage transformation:

…and as an added bonus, I’ve included the music I made sweet juice to. Ha! The perks of following Nibs and Bits.

elderberries in the sink
I cleaned the sink and then gave the clusters a nice bath – using a fork to remove the berries from the stems worked pretty well. Watch out though, they bounce and boing, and they stain fairly easily (I actually colored my daughter’s birthday cake frosting with the juice – hello gorgeous pink frosting)!
They’re much prettier in this bowl than the 5 gallon Jerry’s hardware store plastic bucket. 😉
The berries can be toxic when eaten raw or green (especially when green) – not like keel over and die immediately toxic, but like, not that good for you toxic and you probably should just cook them.
A lot of images of elderberries on the interwebz feature berries that are shiny (more huckleberry looking) – the PNW variety has this white powder than fades off when heated or rubbed off – similar to grapes.
Try to pick as much of the stems off as you can – the stems contain small amounts of cyanide. Similar to apples, but in much smaller amounts.
elderberry syrup
Bottled up after strained and cooled – I like to put my homemade goodness into cute bottles – it really ups the ante, ya know?!
elderberry juice
The color is just mesmerizing – the taste is somewhere between a blackberry and currant! Tart.
elderberry drink
Look at that prettiness! I’d drink some now if I wasn’t drinking coffee.
elderberry juice drink


…and if you’re looking for literature on where to start with herbal remedies and goodness, you can’t go wrong with Rosemary:

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