Living in Washington State for two years resulted in my first introduction to elderberries (Sambucus sp.). A friend took me on a hike into the woods and showed me where they were and how to identify them. The resulting jelly was wonderful.
That was long before the days of digital cameras so those old photos are stuck away in a closet somewhere. Elderberries are very small, and even with all of the picking we did, I was only able to make one half-pint of delicious wild elderberry jelly. However, I never forgot that taste. After moving here, I was very delighted to spy some wild elderberry bushes growing adjacent to the road that leads into and out of the area where we live.
In my neighborhood
Most species of Sambucus berries are edible when picked ripe and cooked. Both the skin and pulp can be eaten this way. However, most uncooked berries
and the other parts of the plants of this genus are poisonous. Sambucus nigra is the only variety considered to be non-toxic when consumed raw. Even so, it is still recommended that the berries be cooked at least a little in order to enhance their taste and ease of digestibility.
Elderberries have been a known folk remedy for centuries in places like Europe, North America, Western Asia, and Africa. They are used around the world as an antioxidant and an immune system booster, as well as to lower cholesterol, improve vision, improve heart health, and help cure coughs, colds, flu, infections, and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the elderberry juice can help to destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell.
3 cups elderberry juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 packet of Sure Jell (regular)
4 1/2 cups sugar
Follow package instructions for making cooked and canned jelly. After bringing juice and pectin to boil, add sugar. Boil hard for one minute, jar, and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes for half-pint jars. Makes approximately five 8 oz. jars of jelly.