Monday, September 26, 2011


Are they sweet?

This is the most common question we get at the farmers' markets. People ask this about all our fruit, berries and many of our vegetables.

This past week, that question was most often asked concerning elderberries.
Along with that, we were asked - "What is an elderberry?" and "Can I try one?"

It seems that elderberries are not that well known.
Seniors know them best & remember picking them years ago.
Many customers have tasted elderberry pie or elderberry jam but had never seen a real berry.
And some mentioned elderberry wine ...

Elderberries are not actually a crop we cultivate on our farm. There is but one bush - small tree almost - growing in the far corner of our yard, alongside the lilac, snowball & rose of sharon bushes. It's been there as long as I can remember, but only in the last few years have we harvested it.
It started when a local chef called to ask if we might know where he could source some elderberries. We did & picked him what he needed. That was easy money! The next year the birds ate most of the berries & the chef went without. So we attempted to cover the berries with netting which worked well - but what a pain!
Lately the birds have left the elderberries alone and we are able to harvest plenty - for our chef friend and for the market.

So ... are they sweet?
The flavour of an elderbery is more tart than sweet. Some can even have a slight bitterness. They really aren't that good to just eat fresh. But made into a pie or jam the taste is wonderful.
Several customers use them to make a syrup - cook the berries down, strain them & add just enough sugar to make it palatable. This is then used as a cold remedy. Apparently elderberries are high in vitamin C.

At market this past week we handed out out lots of elderberry samples, watched a lot of people make faces, and even sold some.

This week we'll hear the same question - Are they sweet?
But instead of elderberries it will be about pears, or squash, or peppers, or ...


  1. does anyone ask if they are poisonous?

  2. I'd gladly take your elderberries. My aunt in Germany also makes a beautiful jelly out of the flowers.

  3. Come on Johnny - why would we sell something poisonous!! I guess they have confidence in what we sell even if they don't recognize it.

    Still a few masters of elderberries left Tiffany. They are slowly turning fuzzy! But yours if you want them.