Turkey Tracks: October 22, 2013
I almost missed the elderberry harvest again this year.
you really have to keep a sharp eye on the berries because they are near ripe one day and gone (birds) the next.
So, back in September some time, I got what remained on the two bushes I have. One is almost a tree, and when we first came, I kept cutting it down as it’s growing in the rock wall below the house. (Harvesting it is…dicey.) The other is a bush I planted two years ago, and those berries are plumper and bigger than the wild berries.
Anyway, you cut off the berry clusters and strip off the berries in the kitchen. You can see elderberries are TINY little purple berries. And you can see how the clusters grow on the plant from the last one I’m stripping in this picture.
I make a tincture. And, tinctures are alcohol based. I use vodka. Next time you are in Whole Paycheck or a health food store, see what a little bottle of elderberry tincture costs, and you’ll have newfound respect for my efforts.
I fill a quart jar with berries and pour the vodka over the berries to fill the jar. I freeze the berries I have left. Then I let the mixture sit out on the counter until the berries go white–as all their purple goodness is leached out. At that point, I strain off the old berries and put in new ones and pour the now-purple vodka back into the jar. Last year I did this process three times. And can I tell you that that tincture was incredibly powerful.
This year, I will probably do only two leachings since I don’t have that many berries. Maybe I’ll leave the second batch of berries inside the liquid–they would provide fiber at least.
This tincture is dynamite for anyone coming down with a cold or the flu or anything that seems like it will become an illness.
Another use for frozen elderberries is to just thaw a few in a spoon overnight and eat them in the morning. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride–of the GAPS protocol–which I’ve written about many times on this blog–recommends eating a few berries over the fall and winter to support your immune system.
Elderberry bushes are easy to locate and to forage, in the late summer. FInd them in the spring when they have big white flat cluster blooms, flat like a Queen Anne’s Lace flower. Google them for an image? They like damp places. If you don’t have access to the countryside, plant a bush in your yard somewhere.