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Botanical name: Sambucus nigra



The black elderberry is native to Europe, western Asia and North Africa. In Germany it is found growing wild on riverbanks and at the edges of forests or planted in gardens. For a few years now, there has been an increase in the commercial cultivation of elderberries, almost exclusively for industrial purposes.



Elderberries are harvested from August to October. They cannot be bought in regular fruit stores. They are sometimes found at weekly markets or can be purchase from direct marketers. They are usually picked for one's own use.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

The small, round, violet-to-black berries hang on an umbel the size of a hand, with dark-red or green stems. Regarding flavour, the berries are tart, at times somewhat bitter, or even on the sweet side.



Elderberries contain anthocyanins, belonging to the secondary plant substances, which are responsible for the blue-to-violet skin colour.


100 g contain:



Elderberry, fresh

Energy (kcal)


Water (g)


Protein (g)


Fat (g)


Carbohydrates (g)


Fibre (g)


Vitamin C (mg)


Vitamin A (RE) (µg)


Folic acid (µg)


Potassium (mg)


Sodium (mg)


Calcium (mg)


Magnesium (mg)


Iron (mg)




The same holds for elderberries as for all wild fruits: Do not collect them in the vicinity of roads with heavy traffic, as they are exposed there especially to dirt and exhaust fumes.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Elderberries do not store well. They can be kept in the refrigerator for maximally 1 day, best covered with plastic wrap / cling film. Freezing is not a problem, and plastic containers are suitable for this.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

It is not common to eat the berries raw. There are even warnings against doing so, because unripe elderberries contain sambunigrin, a cyanide-inducing glycoside that can cause nausea and vomiting.


The many ways to prepare elderberries make them a special fruit. Before you begin to work with the sensitive fruits, rinse the umbels carefully in a bowl of cold water to clean them, and then let them drain in a sieve.


Pull the individual berries carefully from the stems or strip them off with a fork. Then they can be made into jam, purée, jelly or compote. Cold soups, sauces and juice are also popular elderberry products.


Alcoholic drinks can also be made, such as liqueur, punch or wine. The small, dark berries are perfectly suited for baking. As elderberry juice has a very intensive colour, it is used industrially as a colouring agent in sweets and drinks.


Even the blossoms are edible. They can be dipped into batter and then deep-fried. Dried blossoms can be used to make tea.


Seasoning tip

Ginger, cardamom, cloves, vanilla and cinnamon go well with elderberries.





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