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Friday, September 20, 2013

Foraging 101: Elderberries

 I'm going to start out the foraging series with something easy to identify, useful, and good for you. Elderberries are very common around where I live, growing alongside the road and also along the fence rows where I forage.

One day I was visiting a friend who had just found "the mother load" of elderberries and was planning on making cough syrup with them. I had no idea that the berries were medicinal, though both my dad and BF remember their moms making jam (yeah... add enough sugar to anything and it's good). Come to find out, elderberries are great for the immune system, full of antioxidants (fights cancer) and, as my friend had mentioned, are great for coughs and colds. An extended list of benefits, as well as identification info can be found here.

[Edit: Don't eat the leaves or roots! They're poisonous. Also don't eat unripe fruit, as that can cause diarrhea and vomiting.]

Elderberries can be preserved a lot of ways- I have dried them and also made medicinal cough wine (yay! no heat to destroy benefits or sugar rotting teeth out!) and put them fresh in smoothies. Other people have made jam and/or syrup. This year's harvest all went into wine and fresh eating, but I did dry some last year for tea. It would be cool to add them to cheese, or maybe put into bread or granola like acai berries or something. Chocolate covered elderberries!

That's it for day one. Coming up: Hickory nuts!

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