Elderberry is a beautiful bush with edible flowers and toxic but edible berries, but what do they taste like?
Can toxic berries really taste good?
And an even better question; Do they really taste so good that you’ll ignore the fact that they are poisonous?
In this article I’ll try and explain the different taste experiences you’ll encounter when dealing with elderberry.
Table of Contents
First Things First: Elderberries Are Poisonous
Elderberries are poisonous and you need to cook the berries before using them.
But that shouldn't stop you from experiencing their taste. Just be careful and prep your elderberries carefully.
Read how to render them safe in our article where we cover the toxicity of these potent berries.
What Do Elderflowers Taste Like?
Elderflowers are actually edible as they are.
Well, I suppose most people don’t go around eating flowers from the bush, but you can, from a toxicity perspective, if you want.
The flowers are highly aromatic, with a fragrant honey smell to them. The flowers are also kind of crisp and somewhat juicy.
But there are those that fry elderflowers which give the flowers a not-so-elderflower-taste.
Basically, they taste more like fried dough with some sugar and sometimes cinnamon. The taste of elderflower becomes more like a spice to the fried dough.
In my opinion, frying elderflowers are a waste of perfectly good elderflowers. Especially as they have such a short season.
But why not try it out and see what you think? I recommend you try to save as much of the elderflower taste as possible with less dough and a neutral frying oil + less spices.
We’ve written an article about the different uses of elderberry in where we cover fried elderflowers.
What Does Elderflower Juice Taste Like?
Here’s my absolute favourite!
Elderflowers are a great thing to make juice from.
It’s really easy to make yourself with little effort although it takes quite a long time.
But it’s worth it! It tastes like summer!
As this is my favourite way of using elderflowers I might not be the most objective person to try to describe its taste but I’m not the only one I’ve met that would describe the taste of elderflower juice as light, fresh, floraly and citrusy.
It tastes like summer. Sun in a bottle. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.
You need to collect the flowerheads fresh and new when the tiny buds have just opened and come to bloom, otherwise they become too bitter.
The pollen contributes to the taste so pick and handle them carefully. Do not “clean” them from that pollen.
If you want to see a video on how easy an elderflower juice is made I suggest you check out the section about elderflower juice in our article on Elderberry uses.
What Do Elderberries Taste Like?
The taste of raw elderberries is, in my opinion, best described as tart and bitter. They are definitely not worth risking becoming poisoned by them.
You should never eat raw elderberries. I know some do, but please, stay away from raw elderberries.
Raw elderberries are toxic and you should never eat them without cooking the berries first.
The “trick” used by those who eat raw elderberries is that they avoid chewing/crushing the seeds in the berries.
When elderberries become ripe it's only the seeds inside the berries that are toxic.
There’s so much better things to do with elderberries than to eat them raw.
If you want to read more about the toxicity of elderberries we’ve written an article called “Are Elderberries Poisonous? Yes, But Don’t Let That Stop You”.
What Does Elderberry Juice And Syrup Taste Like?
Now here’s why I’m strongly against eating raw elderberries. You’re basically wasting the potential of the elderberries by slowly poisoning yourself…
Insted, make some juice or syrup from them!
That bitterness and tartness you find in raw elderberries transforms to something absolutely delicious when you make juice from them.
And in the form of elderberry syrup you can get some amazing health benefits from them as well. We got an article about the research backed benefits of elderberry syrup if you’re interested in reading more about it.
Elderberry juice and elderberry syrup taste quite similar.
Juice is often more diluted and therefore thinner than the elderberry syrup.
Of course, if you buy your juice already made, the taste can differ from brand to brand, because of the amount of sugar and other ingredients.
Because the elderberries themselves have a quite tart and bitter taste, almost every recipe contains a pretty heavy sugar amount or in some cases honey.
This makes the juice and syrup, of course, pretty sweet. Many people think that elderberry juice and syrup taste great, even children.
The taste of elderberry juice and syrup is seldom described as tart or bitter. It's sweet with a hint of tartness.
I prefer my juice with less sugar or other added sweetener like honey.
What Does Elderberry Jam Taste Like?
Elderberry jam has a sweet-tart taste. To be a true elderberry jam, it has to have a bit of tartness that is recognizable.
Then there is the sweet additive that takes off the bitterness. A nice mix of sweetness and tartness.
My favourite you ask?
Elderberry jam on a warm English muffin with a big cup of tea. Absolutely delicious!
But the jam should not be excessively sweet. It needs the balance between fruit and sugar.
If you feel like trying to make your own elderberry jam, we have a recipe for you here.
Conclusion: Potent, Tart & Bitter. With Some Toxins On The Side
When it comes to the taste of elderberry there are the flowers and there are the berries. Two absolutely different flavours from the same bush!
There are several things you can do with both the flowers and the berries.
But the thing you always need to remember is that the elderberries are toxic, you have to cook the berries before you do anything with them.
If you’re instead of making your own elderberry interested in acquiring some elderberry products we have a page where we go through some great products made from elderberry and also where you can buy them.
Just keep in mind that the best tasting juice you’ll ever taste is the one you’ve worked hard to make!
I wish you the best of luck with your future elderberry adventures!
And yes, they are definitely worth it!
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