Why is elderberry syrup or jelly not toxic

Elderberry - a shrub with many talents

June is the flowering time for elderberries. The delicate yellowish-white flowers are decorative and can be processed in many ways. They are particularly popular as elderberry syrup, jelly or fried in pancake batter. The blue-black berries are suitable for juice or jam - but they are poisonous raw.

The elderberry plants (Sambucus) form a genus in the musk herb family. The genus includes around 30 species worldwide, three of which are native to Central Europe. The most common is the black elder. There is also the shrub-shaped red elder and the herbaceous attich or dwarf elder.

Black elder grows wild in many places on the edges of forests, river banks or in field hedges. It is not particularly demanding and is therefore often found here. The bushes grow up to seven meters high and very wide.

Harvesting flowers and berries

Depending on the location, elder flowers bloom from May to July. The flower umbels are best harvested in dry, sunny weather. Their sweet scent is unmistakable and typical of the elder. In September, the ripe berries have a glossy black to black-purple color and can be harvested. They taste sweet and sour.

Delicious foods made from elderberry

The traditional way to make elderflower syrup and jelly or elderberry cakes is made from elderflower. But elderberry sparkling wine and punch or elderberry sugar are also examples of the many uses of the flowers.

The berries of the black elder are often made into jelly or jam. They are also used in baking or come in red fruit jelly. Elderberries can also be frozen without any problems.

The juice of the berries is palatable, but tart. Therefore it is usually mixed with apple juice or other sweet fruit juices or drunk as a spritzer

Elderberry as a medicinal plant

Elderberry is healthy. Its berries are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium and iron. Anthocyanins, which are responsible for the deep purple color, have an antioxidant effect. That is why juice from elderberries should strengthen the body's defenses.

Because of its essential oils, elderberry is also considered a medicinal plant. Elderflower tea is traditionally drunk in sweat cures against colds and fever and is supposed to loosen mucus in the airways.

Caution: Do not eat fruits raw

Leaves, bark, unripe berries and the seeds of ripe elderberries contain the toxin sambunigrin. This substance can cause stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea. When heated to over 80 ° C, the sambunigrin disintegrates and the berries lose their toxicity. Even if the ripe berries contain almost no sambunigrin, they should never be consumed raw, but only after heating.

Elderflower syrup recipe

2 liters of water
1 kg of sugar
250 g preserving sugar
10 g citric acid
around 30 elderflower umbels, harvested in midday sun
3 sliced ​​organic lemons

Bring the water with sugar, preserving sugar and citric acid to the boil until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the foam that is created with a slotted trowel.
Let the sugar solution cool down lukewarm. Clean and shake the elderflower umbels and place in a bowl with the lemon wedges. Now pour the cooled sugar solution over it.
Cover with a cloth and let soak for 2 to 3 days. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve or sheet.

A dash of elderflower syrup in the mineral water together with a few leaves of mint and a lemon wedge makes a refreshing summer drink.