Elderberries should not be eaten fresh off the bush because the raw berries can cause stomach aches or diarrhea. However, they are excellent to consume when dried or cooked. Making elderberry syrup is my favorite way to use this herb, and is a medicine I try to make every winter to prevent and treat the flu.
You can use elderberries fresh for recipes, but if you have an over abundance of them, it’s a good idea to preserve them in some way for storage.
How To Dry Elderberries
To dry elderberries, you need either heat or air. Elderberries shrivel up to tiny raisin-looking berries when they are dried. Be sure to fully dry them so they don’t spoil in storage.
There are a few different ways you can dry elderberries
- Spread elderberries on a pan and bake in the oven on lowest heat until elderberries are dried. I read one person say it takes 7-14 minutes to do this, but mine were NOT done in that time.
- Use a dehydrator
- Spread on a window screen or something with holes and place the screen on a cooling rack to make sure air can circulate.
When I recently dried elderberries, I used a combination of methods. First, I used the oven method. I turned the oven on 150 degrees and left them in there for 20-30 minutes. They still were not dry enough, so I decided to spread them out and leave them overnight to dry. As I mentioned, something like a window screen works well for this. You want to be sure the elderberries are spread out well and not bunched together. Setting them on a cooling rack will help air circulate all around them so that they dry well.
After the elderberries are dried, the best way to store them is in a glass container. You can find elderberry syrup recipes, plus a video of me making the syrup HERE.
If you don’t have access to picking your own elderberries, you can buy dried elderberries in bulk here.