Monday, September 19, 2011

Elderberry Applesauce: An Experiment

Elderberries in September

In Search of Elderberries

In March of this year, our family was hit hard with the flu.  Wanting to strengthen our immune systems naturally, I thought of trying the elderberry-based herbal remedy, Sambucol.  While I didn't find any at the pharmacy we frequent, the thought of finding and making my own elderberry extract remained appealing.

Picking Elderberries
In late summer, I spotted a bush with dark purple berries.  I suspected they were elderberries, but wanted to be quite sure, so as to avoid a life-threatening mistake.  I finally gained enough confidence last week to pick some berries, using the information I found to distinguish edible elderberries from a similar lookalike plant that is highly toxic.

Making Elderberry Applesauce

I decided to sweeten the elderberries with apples.  So I peeled, cored, and cut up half a dozen apples, added some lemon juice, and tossed in what elderberries I had, which was about a handful.  After letting the mixture simmer in the slow cooker on low overnight, I realized I needed to add water and more sweetener.  I shook in some cinnamon as well, both for flavor and for its additional immune-boosting properties.  Here is a list of all the ingredients used to make the elderberry applesauce:
  • Apple slices
  • Elderberries
  • Lemon juice
  • Maple syrup
  • Water
  • Cinnamon
Results and Resolutions

I certainly plan to make elderberry applesauce again--next year, since this was the end of the season.  Next time I intend to pick the elderberries when they are juicier, rather than overripe. Also, I will not simmer the applesauce overnight, but rather keep an eye on the process, add more water, and stir it every once in a while so that the fruit cooks evenly.  Also, I might try straining out the elderberry seeds.  Nevertheless, I was happy with my first results, and hope that elderberries can help us stay healthier this fall and winter.


Alicia said...

Very cool! I have never had an they taste good?

Anonymous said...

Very cool indeed! I with Alicia, I've never had an elderberry. Is it a similar taste to anything else?

Aiming4Simple said...

The taste was hard to pinpoint when combined with the apples. For this experiment, I was mainly going for the health benefits.

I am also curious about how pure elderberries taste. I read that it's best to cook them though, so I did not sample a raw berry.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good. I've never had them before either. Do you think they sell them at the store? Maybe a specialty one? I don't think there are and elderberry plants in our area.

AliaAnne said...

Great idea and project. I am from the south and elderberries were consumed quite regularly by past generations. It is making a comeback due to it's health benefits. Not only rich in antioxidants, it also has virus fighting qualities.
I just so happen to have a bottle of elderberry wine made by my bother in law!

stringingualong said...

well, since there wasn't a recipe w/ measurements I cut up 5 apples and put in about 1 1/2 c. elderberries that I had frozen, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup of honey and about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. I have had elderberries only one other time that I know of and that was a pie that I had made ~ no one liked it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so I am hoping that this is a hit! wish me luck - it is on the stove simmering!~
I will try to keep you posted as to how it all turns out and if at all anyone - any one likes it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aiming4Simple said...

@stringingualong - Those amounts sound about right. I hope you enjoy it this time!

stringingualong said...

Aiming4simple - it did turn out really good! thanks
going to make more now!

JES said...

Great idea with the applesauce! Thank you for sharing this on the elderberry link up! I will be pinning all your recipes to our elderberry board :)