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Elderberries - harvesting and using - two queries

(5 Posts)
Rowantree Wed 25-Sep-13 19:04:58

Hi - we do a lot of foraging in the hedgerows at this time of year. Today we went to seek out bullaces and elderberries, both of which we use to make jam. My quandary is that whereas most ripe elderberries seem to have reddish stems, some of them have green ones though the leaves were exactly the same as the others. Is there anything else we could confuse them with, or is it, as we suspect, green because the green ones were in shade?

Another concern - I've read that the seeds/leaves/stems contain cyanide and are toxic. We remove every bit of stem and twig we can see but occasionally bits might slip through! Haven't poisoned anyone as yet and we've been making hedgerow jam a few years now, so how much of a worry is this?
Any advice/reassurance welcome!

MrsJamJam Wed 25-Sep-13 19:23:21

Lots of people round here (deepest devon) make elderflower cordial in the spring. Involves soaking the whole flower heads and I have never heard of anyone worrying about poison in the stalks. So I'm guessing that the concentration of any nasties must be pretty small and that the odd bit of stalk in your jam shouldn't be a problem.

The birds eat all our berries before we get to them! At least we have vrey well fed birds.

Anne58 Wed 25-Sep-13 19:50:19

Elderberry wine? (I have made it in the past) I used to strip the berries from the bunches with an ordinary fork.

Or you could go for a spot of bird confusing. I used to freeze them when there was a bumper crop, then defrost them and put them on the bird table in the depths of winter.

MrsJamJam whereabouts are you in Devon?

HildaW Wed 25-Sep-13 20:31:57

I googled elderberries...and BBC food has a whole page about them - seemed all very innocent and quite delicious.
I made a crumble once with them with equal amounts of blackberries, apples and elderberries....was yummy and we all survived.

Rowantree Thu 26-Sep-13 22:41:04

Good to know the odd bit of stalk isn't going to land us in A&E! Thankssmile

Hoping to pick more soon - hedgerow crumble would be great. I do remember making pear and elderberry crumble once and it was yummy.

Hoping to find some damsons this weekend as we're going to Herefordshire.