When to Harvest Elderberries

Elderberries are native to North America and are deciduous shrubs. Elderberries can be used to make candies, syrups, jams, cakes, and even wine. Do you know when to harvest elderberries? It is very important to know when to harvest elderberries, especially for making wine from elderberries.

In the Northern Hemisphere, elderberries are usually harvested between August and September, but you should pay attention to the berries to know which ones to harvest. In this article, we will explain how and when to harvest elderberries.

When to Harvest Elderberries

When to Harvest Elderberries? Elderberries are ready to be harvested between August and September (Northern Hemisphere). Elderberry trees flower during the summer and then the elderberries appear. It is very important to harvest elderberries at the right time, especially if you are going to prepare wines.

Elderberries are dark purple when fully ripe, you should only harvest the ones you see ripe. When not yet ripe, elderberries are slightly toxic. You will also notice that not all bunches of elderberries are ready to be harvested at the same time, select the ripe ones and leave the rest to ripen on the plant. Elderberries that are not ripe are green or pale purple in color.

Another way to know if elderberries are fully ripe, even if they are dark purple, is to squeeze a berry and look at its juice. If the juice is dark like the elderberry, it is ripe, but if the juice is pale, the elderberry is not ripe yet.

The European Medicines Agency recommends not to consume elderberries raw; it is best to cook them for consumption. Raw elderberries, even if ripe, have a substance that could cause nausea or diarrhea, so it is always better to cook them.

In the first year of your elderberry tree, you will get very few elderberries, but as the years go by, the production of elderberries will increase. So, when to harvest elderberries? The answer is between September and August, but you should only harvest ripe elderberries which will be dark purple in color.

when to harvest elderberries
When to Harvest Elderberries? Elderberries should be harvested when fully ripe, their color will be dark purple. In the image above you will see elderberries that are not ripe and therefore their color is green.

How to Harvest Elderberries

How to Harvest Elderberries? Harvesting elderberries is very simple. Once you see the ripe elderberry clusters, use sharp, disinfected scissors to cut the elderberry cluster. Always use sharp scissors to make a perfect cut and not damage the plant. It is also important to always disinfect the tool with alcohol before using it on the plant.

Once the berries are harvested, remove the leaves and stems that should not be consumed because they are toxic. Then wash the elderberries and cook or freeze them. Elderberries last only a short time after being harvested. If the elderberries are not consumed within 12 hours, they will quickly begin to ferment and become unpalatable for consumption. An adult elderberry plant can produce 6 and 7 lbs. (13 and 15 kg) of elderberries.

how to harvest elderberries
How to Harvest Elderberries? To harvest, elderberries, use sharp scissors to avoid damaging the plant during harvesting. It is important to always disinfect the tool used for harvesting.

How to Store Elderberries

How to Store Elderberries? As mentioned above, elderberries should not be consumed raw because they could cause nausea or stomach pain. It is best to harvest elderberries and cook them or store them in the freezer because they turn bad very quickly.

Elderberries can be used to make cough syrups, gummies, jams, wines, cakes, and much more. It’s just a matter of choosing how to prepare elderberries and enjoy them. Normally at home, we prepare jam and cakes with elderberries. Leftover elderberries are washed, dried, and stored in the freezer for cooking another day.

So, you know that when you harvest elderberries, you should cook them immediately or store them in the freezer to preserve them properly.

how to store elderberries
Always cook elderberries, you should never consume raw elderberries. Preparing jam with elderberries is an excellent way to consume the berries.

Final Conclusions

Now you know when to harvest elderberries and how to consume elderberries safely. Never consume elderberries raw, this is a rule you should never forget. Many foods can be prepared with elderberries, including cough syrup, which is very good and 100% natural.

We hope that this article on when to harvest elderberries will be of great use to you and that you will have an excellent harvest. We recommend our other article on pruning blueberry bushes.

About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.