How Dangerous Is Elderberry?

White blossom, blackberry – that’s how we know elderberry. The vitamin C-rich berry can also become an unexpected danger if prepared incorrectly…

Most of us know the red and black berries as a delicious syrup in “Hugo”. But elderberry also unfolds its unique taste in jam and cakes. In addition, the “elderberry” is said to have healing effects on menstrual cramps and constipation. In addition, the elder is said to protect against cancer and heart attacks.

It all depends on the right color

However, the “elderberry” not only has advantages: if you are not careful, there is a risk of poisoning. In fact, elderberry has so-called astringent properties. This means that the stomach contracts spasmodically when larger people are ingested. Diarrhea and vomiting can be further consequences. However, this spasm-inducing property only occurs in unripe berries. Therefore, before consumption, care should be taken to only process ripe berries. This can sometimes be difficult to recognize with the elder, as there are different types of elders whose berries have different colors. Basically, however, the following applies: black and dark blue berries are reddish-brown when unripe, and red elderberries are still unripe if they shimmer greenish. The most common type of elder in Germany is the black elder. You can recognize it by its white, fragrant flowers and berries, which are deep black when ripe.

The berries form in July and August. Now it’s time to be patient. Only when all the berries have turned black between mid-August and early September can they be harvested without worry.

Attention prussic acid alarm!

You should also be very careful, for example when processing syrup and jam, not to process any buds, leaves, or pieces of bark, as these can contain hydrocyanic acid and therefore lead to symptoms of poisoning in larger quantities.

Pay attention to the elderberry taste

Even if the mixed drink “Hugo” and elderberry syrup taste very sweet, the berry has a strong, tart aroma when it is pure. In juices and jams, this taste is often masked by a lot of sugar. If you want to let the true taste of elderberry stand out more, you can simply sweeten it a little less. If the syrup or juice tastes bitter unexpectedly, you probably got too many unripe berries in it. In this case, the following applies: Dispose of the elderberries completely. A few unripe berries, which are not particularly noticeable in the taste, do not pose a problem.

Vitamin C Miracle

If you take all the advice to heart, the elder is a versatile source of energy that provides excellent protection against colds thanks to its high vitamin C content. The fragrant flowers of the white elder can also be processed. Dried and then boiled, the flowers conjure up a tea that is very effective against colds.

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Written by Crystal Nelson

I am a professional chef by trade and a writer at night! I have a bachelors degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and have completed many freelance writing classes as well. I specialized in recipe writing and development as well as recipe and restaurant blogging.

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