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.
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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.
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 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.
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.